According to the BigThink website, a study found that older adults who couldn’t balance on one leg for ten seconds had an 84% higher risk of death.Great thinking“.
Balance is often not assessed during routine tests for older adults, but a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that it should be routinely included. People who balance on one leg for ten seconds have an 84% higher risk of age, sex, body mass and heart disease, high blood pressure. And even after co-morbidities such as diabetes, death than their peers who could successfully take the test.
Long term study
1,700 Brazilian adults participated in the study as part of the CLINIMEX long-term exercise cohort. Each subject underwent a more standard physical examination, and a basic balance test was included. Each participant was asked to stand barefoot on a flat platform, arms folded at the sides, eyes fixed and looking straight ahead.
Participants were given three attempts to balance on one leg of their choice for at least ten seconds. A physician or nursing assistant should stand nearby and stabilize the subject if he begins to fall.
After the age of sixty
After the experiment, the researchers followed the subjects for an average of seven years. Researchers found that people’s ability to complete a balance test declines rapidly after age 60.
Nearly 95% of participants aged 51 to 55 could balance on one leg for ten seconds, compared to only 82% of those aged 61 to 65. Only 46% of 71 to 75-year-olds managed to clear the exam.
The researchers found that older adults were more likely to fail the test, and not surprisingly, it was associated with a higher risk of death from falls – almost five times higher.
But when people are matched based on age and confounding variables like obesity and other health problems, the effect is even stronger. Ten seconds of failure to balance on one leg increases the risk of all-cause mortality by 84%.
Exercise for seniors
Other similar physical tests have previously been used to identify older adults at greatest risk of death. For example, studies consistently show that older adults with the greatest grip strength, used as a measure of overall body strength, live longer and have a significantly lower risk of death than older adults with poor grip strength.
Taken together, the results suggest that better exercise in older adults offers benefits beyond heart health and improved metabolism, and may have other biological benefits.
A tripping hazard
Another explanation offered by the researchers for the disparity in mortality risk is that people with better balance are less likely to fall. The researchers concluded, “684,000 people worldwide die from falls every year. Although falls do not directly lead to death, they can certainly lead to physical or cognitive disability, which can significantly reduce average life expectancy.
Exercise is routine
The balance test is “remarkably safe and well-received by participants, and importantly, it is easy to incorporate into routine clinical procedures, as it takes no more than a minute or two to apply as part of routine physical examinations.”
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