Stand on one leg to predict risk of an early death

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A study has revealed that simple daily tasks such as getting out of your chair and standing on one leg may be a good way to predict if middle-aged people are at risk of early death.

Fifty-three year old men who were able to balance on a single leg for more than 10 seconds, as well as stand up and sit down in a chair in excess of 37 times in a minute, were found to have a lower risk of dying early.

Females of the same age who were able to stand up and sit down in excess of 35 times a minute and stand on one of their legs for more than a 10-second period were found to be at the lowest risk of dying early than those who did not perform as well.

Daily tasks such as getting out of a chair without help has been used as a warning sign of ill health in the elderly, but the new research has shown that this method can be used to predict health problems in people in their early fifties.

It is hoped that at some point, nurses and doctors will be able to make use of a screening test which will identify those who need to make changes to their lifestyles or receive medication to ward off ill health as they age.

The study found that males who were able to stand up and sit down in a chair less than 23 times in one minute were at double the risk of dying during the following 13 years than the ones who were able stand and sit 37 times or more.

The same applied to females who were able to stand and sit less than 22 times each minute, compared to the ones who did it 35 times or more.

The people who were unable to carry out the test at all were seven times more at risk of dying.

A second test involved standing on one leg with your eyes closed. It was found that males and females who were able to hold that position for under two seconds were three times more at risk of dying than those who were able to hold the position for 10 seconds or more.

The ones who were unable to complete the test at all were about 12 times more at risk of dying in the following 13 years.

A third test was done to measure grip strength by squeezing a special device.

All three tests were combined to form one score, with each test carrying equal weight. The study found that those people who had the lowest overall score were five times more at risk of dying than those who had obtained the best scores.

The study included 5000 people who had been born during 1946, throughout their lives and were asked to complete the tests when specially trained nurses visited their homes when they reached the age of 53.

The lead author, Dr Rachel Cooper, said that the tests used were far from being used as screening tools, however, research on the effects in different age groups could make it a possibility.

Image Credit: Tomas Sobek

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