Yyou can imagine the ability to balance on one foot as, perhaps, the nifty talent of hitting out when it’s time for a tree pose in a yoga class or when you need to grab a product from a high or hard-to-reach place. But according to a growing number of research groups on balance and longevity, maintaining that seemingly simple skill as you grow older means a lot: It could certainly increase your chances of living a longer life. Although that is due to the fact that a good balance can prevent you from falling short-term, the balancing process is also associated with the many neurological functions needed to keep you in old age.
According to a recent study in which researchers asked more than 1,700 people aged 51 to 75 to stand on one leg for 10 seconds and then check their health over a seven-year follow-up period, it is clear that. failure this one-leg test is associated with a higher risk of death from all causes (or death from any cause). In fact, 17.5 percent of all deaths that occurred during the study period were people who could not perform an equity test, while only 4.6 percent were people who could. To be clear, those deaths were not caused for inequality — but balance shows that poor balance can be an indicator of other play issues, where positive balance, on the contrary, can be a sign of health, now and in the future.
“Keeping your balance requires more complex connections than a family of 60 people.” —Michael Roizen, MD, gynecologist
The reason why it relates to all systems that need fire to achieve optimal balance. “Keeping your balance requires more complex connections than a family of 60 people,” says Internal Medicine physician Michael Roizen, MD, author of the next issue. The Great Age Reboot. “You have sensations in all your organs that interact with space sensors in your ears and others in your eyes, all of which are connected to the back of your brain called your cerebellum and to the motor nerves that send messages to all your skeletal muscles. ok. ” Chances are, if your body is capable of making all those connections, you are less likely to have chronic conditions (which can block those paths) and more likely to have full functioning of your brain and nervous system.
Because all of the above systems usually degenerate over time, as well as the balance itself, it is easy to test the relationship between equality and longevity in older people. That is, two 20-year-olds can control one 10-foot equity test without even being “good” in the balance, while for two 70-year-olds who have experienced normal age experience. a weakening of the nervous system, the test would show more clearly whether they had maintained their ability to balance or not — and all the body processes involved in doing so.
In fact, this one-leg test is more of a symptom than a person’s ability to walk properly, says family physician Danine Fruge, MD, medical director at Pritikin Lifetime Center. “You can imagine walking like a fall forward,” he says. “There is a lot of speed involved that can hide the problem of balance. But by standing on one leg, you can visualize or bring up a possible issue for someone who did not know they had it.
Although many of the health effects of positive and negative balance are still being debunked, what we do know for sure is that equality involves so much more than just the strength of the feet, says Drs. Fruge: “You really look at the body’s overall ability to function and coordinate its function.”
Below, doctors break down the possible links between the right balance and longevity, and share the first improvement advice to maximize the latter.
Here are 3 different ways that having a good balance can extend your longevity
1. Balance and fitness
Perhaps the most obvious link between equality and longevity is that people with good balance also have more body balance (and get all the health benefits in it) compared to those with poor balance.
“We know that if you feel uncomfortable in any way – be it clear, like, you find yourself trembling, or less direct, perhaps in contemplation if you want to do that walk because the face is not right, or if – that means that you will have less activity, ”says physiologist Dawn Skelton, PhD, professor of Aging and Health in the Department of Orthopedics and Paramedicine at Glasgow Caledonian University.” . “
Although decreased balance, again, is common with age, many of the reasons why balance problems can reduce your balance and longevity are associated with the underlying issues of your ocular vestibular reflex, says Drs. Skelton, referring to a system that coordinates inputs. from your ears and eyes to facilitate balance. For example, if you have visual impairments (perhaps due to a gradual deterioration of age) or dehydration (whether due to painkillers or kidney disease or something else) and cause your inner ears to become less moist, you will be and equity problems. and, in turn, have less chance of moving your body, he says. Where, a person without those basic issues would have both better balance and greater chance of living longer.
Perhaps even once, a lack of activity due to balance issues can lead to rapid muscle loss, which can increase your risk of falls, says pediatrician Scott Kaiser, MD, director of Geriatric Cognitive Health at the Pacific Institute of Neuroscience. And falling is a major threat to well-being, he says: “Every 20 minutes, a person in this country dies from a fall, and in addition to all these deaths, falls can cause serious injuries such as hip fractures, brain injuries, and all kinds. that can leave you in bed. ”
At the same time, not only are you less likely to engage in any form of physical activity for some time (thus increasing your mortality rate), but you are also more likely to develop depression, pneumonia, and any other conditions that may come your way. in bed, says Dr. Fruge. And, of course, you would be more likely to avoid the whole cycle — and, in turn, prolong your life — by maintaining a healthy balance and being more diligent from the start.
2. Balance and cognition
Although scientists are not sure exactly why, exercise and achieving optimal balance have been shown to improve certain brain functions — in particular, memory and spatial cognition. One possible explanation is the fact that balancing requires different parts of the brain to throw together, as it absorbs sensory inputs from the rest of the body. And the process can strengthen the nervous system, increase neuroplasticity (aka the brain’s ability to connect wires and reconnect).
The result? “Brain connections that promote balance can also promote better cognitive functioning,” says Drs. Roizen. And with a good sense of humor, you can also “enjoy your friends and your long-term aspirations, as if you were younger for many years,” he says.
It is also true that because balancing is a very complex process in the brain, it may be one of the first things to go in the case of a brain issue. In fact, a 2014 study found that inability to balance on one leg for 20 seconds was associated, in particular, with a higher risk of coronary heart disease (a brain condition that can lead to stroke) in people who had no symptoms. That’s all to say, if you will ni The ability to balance well, there is a greater chance that your brain will, in fact, effectively shoot at all cylinders, increasing your chances of living longer.
3. Balance and nervous system
Just as balance requires a large part of the brain, it also makes special nerve requests throughout the body, and requires them to send signals of ownership according to your circumstances. Says Fruge: “Being able is the ability of your body to understand your position in the sky. So, if your balance is low, it could be an indication that your nerves have lost some of their ownership — which can, in turn, be the result of a basic condition.
For example, take diabetes, which is known to increase the risk of death. “With diabetes, you can get nerve damage in your legs, which can make it more difficult to balance on one leg,” says Dr. Fruge. “You probably don’t realize it when you stand on two legs because there are still enough sensations that reach the brain, but as soon as you try to do one leg, maybe a sudden defect occurs.”
Such a condition can be associated with a brain injury, such as a small stroke, or a circulatory disorder associated with heart disease; all of these can reduce the ability of the nervous system to recognize ownership and cause you to have difficulty balancing, says Dr. Fruge. And at the same time, any of these will reduce your chances of living a long life.
Change that approach, though, and there is more supporting evidence good balance and longevity. That is, if, in fact, you can balance well, it is likely that your nerves may be well-positioned, meaning you are less likely to have a chronic health condition (like one of the above) lurking under the surface.
“The reason we think balance is associated with longevity is because it needs to keep your brain and the nervous system connected to the same cycle.” -Danine Fruge, MD, family practice physician
Even more, good ownership also allows you to use balance exercises to teach your nervous system to be more flexible, says Dr. Fruge. (Do you remember that little neuroplasticity above?) “The reason we think that balance is associated with longevity is because you need to keep your brain and nervous system in good shape,” says Dr. Fruge.
How to increase balance at any stage of life to help protect your longevity
As a starting point, the exercise used in the few lessons above — just standing on one leg — is ideal for improving balance. If you are worried about falling, try a corner-facing exercise, so you can lean on one of the walls if you start to lose balance, suggests Dr. Roizen. Once you have confidence, you can also practice standing on one leg while doing other activities such as brushing or washing dishes.
In addition, experts recommend incorporating strength balance exercises into your cycle, too — that is, exercises that require balance when moving through space, as opposed to simply doing static hold. “One simple example is to use a ladder, as that requires a level change, or walking on the toes or heel, where you lower your support base,” says Drs. Skelton. Of course, yoga and dance fall into this category, too, as both require you to balance and coordinate your body in motion.
In general, the key to equality training is really to combine and challenge it. “The more you practice, the better, the better,” says Drs. Skelton. “And don’t worry if you feel a little shaky, too. That means your brain is working hard to keep you fit.” And as long as you continue to light those neurons, you contribute to your longevity, too.
Oh news! You look like someone who loves free exercise, discounts on high quality healthcare brands, and exclusive Well + Good content. Sign up for Well +, our online community of health professionals, and unlock your gifts instantly.
Our editors select these products independently. Buying through our links can earn a Well + Good commission.