The 10-second balance test that predicts if you'll die young

A University of Sydney study has claimed that a simple 10-second balance test can determine if you will die young.

The Australian study shows that people over 50 struggling to stand on one leg for 10 seconds are at a higher risk of early death.

A group of people in balance positions on yoga mats
A simple balance test could determine if you're at risk of dying early. Photo: Getty

Test subjects were asked to balance on one leg while keeping their gaze fixed straight ahead, with arms by their side and their free foot placed on the back of the opposite lower leg.

Participants were allowed up to three attempts, and the sample size included 1702 participants between 51 and 75, with two-thirds being male.

The researchers want the test to be conducted as a standard health check for older Australians, to detect any risks.

“The availability of simple, inexpensive, reliable and safe balance assessment tools that could help predict survival would potentially be beneficial to health professionals evaluating and treating older adults,” the study reads.

According to the researchers, roughly 20 per cent failed the balance test, a total of 348. After tracking the failed cohort, the participants generally had poorer health, with a large amount classified as obese or having high blood pressure, heart disease and unhealthy blood fat profiles.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine has published the study, and it has also been peer-reviewed.

The study showed that participants who failed the 10-second balance test, or 10-s OLS, had a greater risk of death in the following decade, with the research suggesting it could be as high as 84 per cent.

A group of silhouettes balancing at sunset on the beach
The study had some interesting findings. Photo: Getty

“Each year an estimated 684,000 individuals die from falls globally, of which over 80 per cent are in low/middle-income countries,” the study reads.

“While it is known that good levels of balance are relevant for many daily life activities, there is considerable evidence that loss of balance is also detrimental for health and that some exercise interventions may improve balance.”

“In our 13 years of clinical experience routinely using the 10-s OLS static balance test in adults with a wide age range and diverse clinical conditions, the test has been remarkably safe, well-received by the participants, and importantly, simple to incorporate in our routine practice as it requires less than 1 or 2 min to be applied.”

After tracking the cohorts over seven years, 17.5 per cent of those who failed the test died, compared to a much smaller 4.6 per cent of those who passed the test.

Researchers concluded the study saying: “Our study indicates that the inability to complete the 10-s OLS in middle-aged and older participants is related to a higher risk of all-cause mortality, and consequently, to a shorter life expectancy.”

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