Health tips – Small changes with big effects. 2 – Balance on one foot to live longer

The 2nd article in our small changes with big effects series

Balance on one foot

© Joe Waldron

A common New Year’s resolution is to get fitter. Although people determinedly heave weights or run, they often forget the importance of working on their balance. Worldwide, falls are the most common cause of accidental death after road traffic accidents, and unless you do something about it, your balance will deteriorate as you get older. And having good balance is a powerful predictor of how long and how healthily you will live.

A good test of your balance is to see how long you can stand on one leg, first with your eyes open and then closed. Take your shoes off, put your hands on your hips and stand on one leg. See how long you last. The test is over as soon as you shift your planted foot or put your raised foot down on the ground. Best of three. Then repeat, with your eyes closed. You will be dismayed by how quickly you start to fall over. Here are the targets that different age groups should be able to manage:

  • Under 40: 45 seconds with eyes open, 15 seconds with eyes closed.
  • Aged 40-49: 42 seconds open, 13 seconds closed.
  • Aged 50-59: 41 seconds open, 8 seconds closed.
  • Aged 60-69: 32 seconds open, 4 seconds closed.
  • Aged 70-79: 22 seconds open, 3 seconds closed.

Read Dr Mosley’s full advice on balancing on one foot

Some other sites with help for balance:

NHS Balance Exercises

Healthline – 13exercises for balance

 

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