OPINION

Finding your balance could help you live longer

LIFE BALANCE: Research shows that balance exercises improve memory and spatial cognition in healthy adults. Picture: Shutterstock.
LIFE BALANCE: Research shows that balance exercises improve memory and spatial cognition in healthy adults. Picture: Shutterstock.

Important question: how's your balance?

Ordinary. My cake to kale ratio is expanding in the wrong direction, and every day at 4pm it's a toss-up between tea and red.

But you know, lockdown.

I was talking literal, not lifestyle. Are you wobbly?

Depends if I'm pre or post 4pm.

I ask because there's growing evidence that maintaining good balance has huge benefits. It can even predict how long you'll live.

No surprises there.

According to the World Health Organisation, falling is the second most common cause of accidental death worldwide.

But there's more.

A major 1999 study showed a clear relationship between how long people in their 50s could stand on one leg with their eyes closed and whether they'd die from cancer, heart attacks and other nasties.

The wobbliest ones were three times more likely to have perished from those non-tumble causes 13 years later.

More lifestyle:

Woah. Tell me more.

Good balance makes you smarter, too.

A 2017 study showed that balance exercises improve memory and spatial cognition in healthy adults.

UK celeb doctor Michael Mosley says that good balance can indicate you're less likely to suffer dementia in your later years.

Brain and balance ... what's the secret?

If your brain isn't helping you balance well, it's most likely failing at some of its other jobs, too.

Sharpen up your stability, and you'll help your general health.

I'm erecting a tightrope as we speak.

Best start smaller.

Dr Mosley recommends that you test your balance by seeing how long you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed.

Oops! That would be two seconds.

You need to work on this.

The average for an under-40 is 15 seconds, 40-49 is 13 seconds, and 50-59 eight seconds.

At 70-79 the average is three seconds.

I'm officially a wobbler. What next?

Keep at it. Balance is a use-it-or-lose-it thing.

Dr Mosley likes to stand on one leg while brushing his teeth in the morning.

Closing your eyes while you balance makes your brain work harder to keep you upright.

Yoga, pilates, tai chi or exercises on a balance board will all help release your inner flamingo.

This is fun. I may emerge from lockdown with a new superpower.

Work-life balance just got serious.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.
This story Finding your balance could help you live longer first appeared on The Canberra Times.