Recent research has shown that someone’s ability to stand on one leg, or not, is an indicator of health. The ability to balance on one leg can increase our fitness and potentially help us to live longer, remain active, and decrease our risk of falling.
In April 2021 the World Health Organisation (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls) reported that falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide and 37.3 million falls are severe enough to require medical attention each year. Falls that are fatal are seen as a major public health problem – they come in second to fatalities from road traffic accidents.
When we were young
Children that are active learn to balance on one leg as part of growing up – playing games and doing sports. However, as we age, we often do less of these types of activities – and in a world where technology has taken over many of our daily tasks, we move even less. The mantras – “use it or lose it”, or, “use it and keep it”, has never been more important than now.
The cost of falling
These are varied – from the costs associated with hospitalisations, there may be time taken off work, special physio sessions required to become active again, changes may need to be made in the home, and special equipment purchased.
For some people, if a fall is life-changing this may result in long-term care and possibly a care home or nursing home.
Who is at risk of falling?
Age is a key factor and older people have the highest risk of sustaining death or injury from a fall.
Both genders are at risk of falling and the time that people can stand on one leg also varies for men and women at different ages (https://www.sralab.org/rehabilitation-measures/single-leg-stance-or-one-legged-stance-test).
It’s been noted that falls for men are more likely to be fatal, whilst women suffer more non-fatal falls.
Should I start standing on one leg?
Studies have shown that being able to stand on one leg, improves overall balance in a person and reduces the risk of falling. Standing on one leg can also help to improve bone density, especially around the hips. Both men and women are at risk of osteoporosis, although it occurs in a higher number of women. Having higher bone density also means that if someone does fall, they are less likely to fracture.
And if you’re looking for somewhere to start – we are advised to brush our teeth twice a day – so there are two opportunities to practice and get going.