Y.You can think of it as the ability to balance one leg when it is time to pose a tree in a yoga class or when you need to hold an object from a high or difficult place. But according to a growing body of research on balance and longevity, maintaining that simple skill as you age has far-reaching effects: it can actually increase your chances of living a long life. While this is partly due to the fact that good balance can save you from longevity-busting collapse, the process of good balance is also linked to a host of healthy neurological functions you need to kick in old age.
Based on a recent study in which researchers looked at more than 1,700 people between the ages of 51 and 75 who stood on one leg for 10 seconds and then checked their health over a seven-year follow-up period. Failed This one-leg test is associated with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality (or dying for any reason). In fact, 17.5 percent of the total deaths in the time window of the study were people who could not do a balance test, while only 4.6 percent were people who could. To be clear, those were not deaths The reason Lack of balance – but correlation shows that weak balance can be an indicator of other problems in the game, while good balance, by contrast, can be a sign of health, both now and in the future.
“You need more complex connections than a 60-person family to keep your balance.” – Michael Roisen, MD, Internal Medicine Physician
The reason has to do with all the systems needed to fire to get a good balance. “Keeping your balance requires more complex connections than a 60-person family,” says internal medicine specialist Michael Roisen, MD, author of the upcoming release. Great era reboot. “There are sensors throughout your body that interact with position sensors in your ears and others in your eyes, all of which are called your cerebellum at the back of your brain and are integrated into motor nerves that send messages to all your skeletal muscles. To keep you upright.” Chances are, if your body is able to make all those connections, you have a chronic condition (which can disrupt those pathways) and your brain and nervous system are less likely to be fully functioning.
Because all of the above systems naturally decline over time, with balance, it is easier to test the link between balance and longevity in older people. That is, two 20-year-olds may be able to manage a 10-second, one-leg balance test that is not particularly “good” in balance, while for two 70-year-olds who have experienced normal age-related. Neurological decline, tests will show more clearly whether they have the ability to balance – and in doing so involve all the processes of the body.
To be sure, this one-leg test is more indicative of a person’s ability to walk well, says family-practice physician Danin Fruz, medical director of the Pretkin Longevity Center, MD. “You can think of falling forward,” she says. “There’s a lot of speed involved that can really mask the balance problem.” But by standing on one leg, you can really figure out a potential balance problem or bring out someone who didn’t know they had one. “
Although there are still many health effects of good versus bad balance, what we do know is that balance is involved. So Dr. “You’re not just looking at the body’s overall ability to function and coordinate its activity,” says Froze.
Below, physicians break down the potential links between good balance and longevity, and share advice for improving the former to promote the latter.
Here are 3 different ways through which good balance can increase your longevity
1. Balance and physical fitness
Perhaps the most obvious link between balance and longevity is that even well-balanced people are more physically fit than those with poor balance (and there are all health benefits out there).
“We know that if you’re feeling unsteady in any way – whether explicitly, like, you notice you’re staggering, or less directly, maybe you really want to walk that the surface is uneven, or the like — it means You’ll be less active, “says Don Skeleton, PhD, an exercise physiologist and professor of aging and health at Glasgow Caledonian University’s Department of Physiotherapy and Paramedicine.
Although some decline in balance is, again, common with age, many of the reasons balance problems can cut into your fitness and longevity are linked to problems underlying your vestibular ocular reflex, Drs. Skeleton says, referring to the system that coordinates inputs. To facilitate balance from your ears and eyes. For example, if you have vision problems (perhaps due to a slow fall with age) or you are dehydrated (painkiller or kidney disease or something else) and your inner ear is less moist, you are going to have balance problems. And, in turn, your body is less likely to move, she says. However, those underlying issues will happen without anyone Both Good balance and high chance of living a long time.
Perhaps even more quickly, being less active due to balance problems can cause you to lose muscle mass quickly, which can increase your risk of falling, says Scott Kaiser, director of geriatric cognitive health at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute. And falling is a big threat to health, he says: “Every 20 minutes, someone in this country dies fighting, and in addition to all those deaths, falling can cause serious injuries such as hip fractures, brain injuries, and all sorts of serious problems. That could put you to bed. “
At that point, not only are you likely to do no real physical activity for a while (it increases your mortality rate), but you are more likely to develop depression, pneumonia, and all the other conditions that can get stuck. In bed, Dr. Says Froze. And, of course, you’re more likely to avoid that whole spiral – and, in turn, increase your longevity by maintaining a good balance and being more active from the start.
2. Balance and cognition
Although scientists aren’t sure why, exercise and good balance have been shown to improve certain brain functions – in particular, memory and spatial perception. One possible explanation is the fact that balance requires firing different parts of the brain together, as it takes sensory inputs from the whole body. And that process can strengthen nerve pathways, increasing neuroplasticity (aka brain wire and the ability to reconnect itself).
The result? “Brain connections that increase balance can also promote improved cognitive function,” Drs. Roisen says. And with a good experience, you are able to “enjoy your friends and your passions for a long time, as if you were many years younger,” he says.
It is also the case that balance is a pretty complex process in the brain, it can be one of the first things to go in case of a brain problem. In fact, a 2014 study found that being unable to balance one leg for 20 seconds was, in particular, associated with a higher risk of developing small bowel disease (a brain condition that can lead to stroke) that was otherwise asymptomatic. All this to say, if you will Are If you are able to balance well, your brain is more likely to fire effectively at all cylinders, increasing the chances of survival.
3. Balance and nervous system
Just as balance requires a large part of the brain, it also makes special requests to the muscles throughout the body, which need to send proprioceptive signals to those around you. “Proprioception is your body’s ability to understand its place in space,” Drs. Says Froze. So, if your balance is weak, it could be an indicator that your nerves have lost some of their proprioception – which, in turn, could be the result of an underlying condition.
Take, for example, diabetes, which increases mortality risk. “With diabetes, you can have nerve damage to your legs, which can make it very difficult to balance one leg,” says Dr. Says Froze. “Maybe you don’t notice it when you’re standing on two legs because there’s enough sensor input to reach the brain, but when you try to do one leg, there’s probably an emerging loss.”
A similar scenario could play with a brain injury, such as a mini-stroke, or heart disease-related blood circulation problem; All of these can reduce the nervous system’s ability to propriocept and cause you to struggle for balance, Drs. Says Froze. And at the same time, any of these conditions will reduce the chances of living a long life.
Reverse that route, though, and there is more evidence for a link between Good Balance and longevity. That is, if you are, in fact, able to balance well, it is possible that your muscles are able to do good proprioception, which means you are less likely to have a long-term health condition (like one of the above) hidden under the surface.
“We believe that balance is related to longevity because it is necessary to keep the integration circuitry of your brain and nervous system intact.” – Denin Frug, MD, Family Practice Physician
Beyond that, good proprioception allows you to use balance exercises to train your neurological system to be more fit, Drs. Says Froze. (Remember the neuroplasticity above?) “The reason we think balance is related to longevity is that it is necessary to keep the integration circuitry of your brain and nervous system intact.” Says Froze.
How to balance at any point in life to help protect your longevity
As a starting point, the exercises used in some of the above studies – standing on one leg only – are excellent for improving balance. If you are worried about falling, try to work out facing the corner, so that if you start to lose balance you can lean on one of the elbows, Dr. Roisen suggests. Once you are convinced, you can also practice standing on one leg while doing other tasks such as brushing teeth or washing dishes.
In addition, experts recommend incorporating some dynamic balance exercises into your rotation – that is, exercises that you need to balance while walking in space, as opposed to just holding steady. “A simple example is to use stairs, because that requires changing the level, or walking on foot, or hill-walking, where you’re lowering your support base,” Drs. Says Skeleton. Of course, yoga and dance also fall into this category, as they both require you to balance and coordinate your body in motion.
Overall, the key to balance training is to really get it right and keep it challenging. Dr. “The more different types of movements you’re doing, the better,” says Skeleton. “And don’t worry if you feel a little shaky, too. It means your mind is working hard to keep you straight.” And as long as you keep firing those neurons, you’re also contributing to your longevity.
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