Brentwood, 2.08pm: 7°C, light rain

Body Talk 14/4/19

Balance is very important, particularly as we get older.It can be an important predictor of whether we will get dementia and how long and how healthily we will live.

A simple balancing test can predict all of that! Also it means you’re less likely to fall over, apparently falls cost the NHS about £450 million each year,so improving your balance isn’t just good for you, but for the community as a whole.

Get yourself a stopwatch or get a friend to time you as you balance.Take off your shoes and socks, put your hands on your hips,  stand on one leg and close your eyes if you can. You will be amazed at how short a time it takes before you wobble. The test is over as soon as you put your foot down, or as soon as your planted foot wobbles.

If you’re over 40, you’re unlikely to last more than 10 seconds, take the average of 3 attempts. The importance of this test has been researched over 13 years, on just under three thousand people over 53, 173 of whom had passed away. The people who had the worst balance, 2 seconds or less, were 3 times more likely to have died. There is also another test, standing up unaided from a seated position, in a minute.People who managed to stand up 36 times or more,were twice as likely to still be alive than those who could only manage 23.

Most people can manage more than 30 seconds on one leg with eyes open, but eyes closed is another matter. Your brain needs to know where you are in respect to your surroundings and without a visual check, this becomes increasingly difficult with age.

Do not despair though, like anything, you will improve with practise, and the more exercise you do the better you will be.


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