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How Standing On One Leg Can Predict Your Future Health

So that’s what flamingos are doing.

British television personality and doctor Michael Mosley has drawn attention to new powerful predictor of how long you will live and how healthy you will be.

In a write-up for the Daily Mail, Dr Michael Mosely pointed towards a study carried out by the Medical Research Council, which began 13 years ago. In 1999, researchers – no doubt inspired by the bullet scene in The Matrix which had just graced their cinemas – had 2,760 men and women in their 50s stand on one leg with their hands on their hips and their eyes closed. They also asked the volunteers to sit and stand on a chair without using their arms as quickly as they could for one minute, and measure their grip strength.

Lo and behold, 13 years later the greatest predictor of general health is linked to the balance test. Those who stood for two seconds or less in 1999 – while probably wearing floor-length black PVC jackets – were three times more likely to have died than those who stood for ten seconds or more. In general, better performance in all three tests showed a greater chance of health but the one-legged test was ‘the One’ that really made them say “Woah”.

It's enough to make you want to get out and exercise more should you suddenly need to leap into a helicopter from an office building.

Here’s how you can do the test from home:

  1. Get a friend to time you with a stop watch.
  2. Put your hands on your hips, stand on one leg, and close your eyes.
  3. Your friend hits start on the stop watch as soon as your leg leaves the ground.
  4. And presses stop as soon as you lose balance.
  5. Take three tests and figure out the average. And voila, you have a slight indicator of your general health.
  6. Probably start doing more exercise and become invincible.

You should be hitting 13 seconds if you’re in your 40s, you’re doing well if you’re in your 50s and going over eight seconds, and averaging four seconds is normal for the over 60s.