“Balancing On One Leg” should be included in all mid-life health check-ups

“The Flamingo Test”

Researchers have said, that “Balancing On One Leg” is a test that should be included in all mid-life health check-ups.

A new study that was recently carried out, discovered that people who could not “balance on one leg for ten seconds”, have an increased mortality risk within the next seven years. The researchers said that when people took part in the flamingo-style balance test, it provided useful information with regard to the mortality risk of middle-aged and older people.

This team of researchers which included experts from a Medical School in the UK, examined certain data on 1,702 people aged 51 to 75. When the people taking part enrolled in the study, they gave various medical details.

They were then asked to stand on one leg for ten seconds without having any additional support to lean on. To prepare for this test, the people were instructed to remove their shoes and socks, and put the front of their free foot on the back of the opposite lower leg, while they kept their arms straight down by their sides and their gaze fixed straight ahead. They were able to have three attempts at this test.

One in five people did not pass the test, and the older they were the harder they found it to pass. 54% of those people aged 71 to 75 were not able to balance on one leg for 10 seconds, compared to 5% of 51 to 55 year olds, 8% of 56 to 60 year olds, 18% of 61 to 65 year olds and 37% of 66 to 70 year olds.

The study found that the people who failed the test were more likely to be older; they were more likely to be overweight; and they were more likely to have a diagnosis of diabetes. It was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and tracked all the people who took part in the “balancing on one leg for 10 seconds” test over a period of seven years.

The “After Seven Years” Follow-Up

After an average period of seven years, 123 people (or 7% of the people taking part) had died.

17.5% of the people who failed the test were among those who died, compared to 4.6% of those who passed the test.

Therefore, after considering various factors, the researchers concluded that, if a person was not able to stand unsupported on one leg for 10 seconds, they would have an 84% chance of dying during the seven year follow-up period.

The researchers wrote:-

“Routinely using the static balance test in adults with a wide age range and diverse clinical conditions, the test has been remarkably safe, it was well received by the participants, and importantly, it was very simple to include in our routine practice, as it takes less than one or two minutes to be applied”.

“We have therefore concluded, that “the 10-second static balance test provides fast and objective feedback and results for the patient concerned, and for health professionals regarding static balance”, and that “this test adds “very useful information” regarding the mortality risk in middle-aged and older men and women”.

“We have also concluded, that there is a potential benefit for including the 10-second one-legged static balance test, as part of all mid-life routine physical health examinations in middle-aged and older adults”, they added.


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