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The inability to stand on one leg may indicate poor brain health

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Between the age of 3 to 5 years, children begin to develop the motor skills that allow them to stand on one foot and balance for 5 seconds or longer.  By the time we are in grade school the ability to stand around like a stork for long periods of time is taken largely for granted.  But as we get older and more out of shape, we begin to lose that ability.  Since most adults don’t have a reason to stand around on one leg unless they’re trying to put their shoes or socks on without sitting down, we mostly miss noticing when it first becomes difficult to remain balanced.  A recent study indicates that we might want to pay more attention to it.  The study of individuals whose average age was 67 found that having trouble balancing on one leg for at least 20 seconds indicated an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline.  To measure, individuals stood on one leg with their eyes opened.  Researchers found that those individuals who were unable to stand for at least 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease and microbleeds.  Shorter periods of being able to stand was also linked with lower cognitive scores.

One of the researchers indicated that poor balance might be the consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities but the study did not appear to attempt to decipher whether poor balance was the cause of cognitive decline or the symptom of it.  For those individuals who didn’t even get to the end of this article before trying to see if they could balance on one leg for at least 20 seconds, there are exercises to help increase strength and balance in the lower body.   Meanwhile, if you want to read more about the study, you can find the original article here.

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