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How’s Your Balance? Take This 30-Second Test To Find Out

30-second-balance-test

Today you’ll discover a simple test so you can determine whether your balance is in top shape or if you need to take action to improve it. In addition, you’ll also get an easy yet effective exercise that you can practice anytime anywhere to enhance your balance.

Let’s begin by exploring this very important topic…

What’s Involved In Maintaining Balance

Without your having to think about it, your body does an astonishing balancing act every day. And I am not just talking about your busy schedule! For you to stay up on two feet, a delicate interplay occurs between your eyes, ears, brain, and muscles.

Visual cues from our eyes give us information about where we are in space. This is why it can be difficult to keep your balance with your eyes closed. Your eyes also send signals to your brain, telling your joints and muscles where and how to move. For example, if you see an obstacle in your path, this visual cue will be sent to your brain which will then signal your muscles to walk around or over the object.

Your inner ear is also involved in the balancing process. Among its tiny, delicate mechanisms is the semi-circular canal. This fluid-filled tube alerts your central nervous system as to the position of your head.

You also have a built-in mechanism that tells your nervous system where your arms and legs are in space. It’s called internal spatial orientation, and it’s the automatic sense that lets you know your arm is out to the side or your leg is pointing forward (for example).

Now let’s move on so you can find out if your balance is up to par.

The 30-Second Balance Test

First, you’ll need to find a partner to time you, because your eyes will be closed. It’s also important to have someone close by in case you fall.

  1. Stand barefoot on a hard floor. Now close your eyes.
  2. Bend one knee and lift the foot – if you’re left-handed, stand on your left leg and lift the right foot; do the opposite if you’re right-handed. You don’t need to lift it high; even though your eyes are closed, you can probably estimate about 6 inches off the floor.
  3. Ask the person with you to check his or her watch, and time how long you can hold that position without wobbling or opening your eyes.
  4. Repeat the test 3 times, and then add up your total time and divide it by 3 to find your average balance base. (For example, if test 1 was 4 seconds, test 2 was 8 seconds, and test 3 was 6 seconds, you’d add up 4, 8, and 6 to get 18. Divide by 3, and your average balance time is 6 seconds.)
  5. Not surprisingly, the chart shows that the number of seconds decreases with age. In the 25-30 year group, for example, the average eyes-closed balance time is 28 seconds. For 50-year-olds, it’s 9 seconds; 65-year-olds average 5 seconds, and 70-year-olds 4 seconds. That’s because…

    Balance Tends To Decrease With Age

    As we get older, our eyesight tends to diminish, throwing a wrench in the first step in good balance (vision). Muscles tend to shrink and your reaction time may be a bit slower. But there’s good news, because…

    You Can Improve Your Balance Regardless Of Age

    You don’t have to be resigned to poorer balance as you age. You can take action to improve and maintain it.

    Savers know how important balance is, and many of you are probably already doing the “Flamingo trick,” which involves standing on one leg while doing an every day chore. And as so often happens, if you’ve been following the Save Our Bones Program, you’re years ahead of the majority.

    A Recent Study Confirms What Savers Have Known For Years!

    A study published last year shows that there’s scientific validity to the Flamingo trick, but you already knew that! Researchers conducted a trial to study the effectiveness of the “dynamic flamingo exercise” in preventing falls. They found that periodically standing on one leg does in fact improve balance, prevent falls, and even improve independent living.1

    Once again, something very simple can have a big impact.

    In a meta-analysis review of 17 trials involving a total of 4305 participants aged 60 and older, researchers concluded that regularly engaging in balance exercises not only prevented falls, but actually prevented injury (including fractures) when falls did occur. Even in the case of severe falls, injuries were less common among those who exercised regularly.2

    Improve Your Balance With Bone-Healthy Nutrition And Exercise

    The research is clear: regular balance exercises prevent falls and fractures. Additionally, certain foods also promote balance. Foods rich in a substance called resveratrol actually prevent neural cell death and markedly improve balance and coordination.3 Red grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts are rich in resveratrol.

    A good place to get started with balancing exercises is with this simple move you can do just about anywhere.

    The Side Leg Lift

    Begin by standing near a wall or chair so you can catch yourself if necessary. Wear comfortable shoes, and stand with knees slightly bent.

    1. Place both your hands on your waist.
    2. Gently lift one leg out to the side, just a few inches off the floor.
    3. Bring the leg back down to the starting position and repeat.
    4. Do a set of 10, then switch to the other leg and do a set of 10 on that side.
    5. Keep switching sides until you’ve done 3 sets of 10 on each side.

    I suggest you practice balancing exercises for a few weeks, and then repeat the balance test. And if you haven’t yet, please take a few minutes to read more about Densercise™ which was designed to greatly improve your balance, muscle tone, and bone density. And don’t forget to let us know of your improvement!

    Till next time,

    References

    1 Sakamoto, K., et al. “Why not use your own body weight to prevent falls? A randomized, controlled trial of balance therapy to prevent falls and fractures for elderly people who can stand on one leg for <15 s.” Journal of Orthopedic Science. 2013 Jan; 18(1): 110-20. doi: 10.1007/s00776-012-0328-3. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138409
    2 El-Khoury, Fabienne, et al. “The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall incused injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” British Medical Journal. 29 October 2013; 347:f6234. Web. http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6234
    3 Walle T, et al. “High absorption but very low bioavailability of oral resveratrol in humans”. Drug Metab Dispos. 2004;32(12):1377-1382.

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14 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. Elizabeth June 6, 2014, 1:05 pm

    Thanks for your helpful advice re the balancing. Still doing all my balancing exercises, but can’t manage it with my eyes closed, however as my eyesight is pretty good, and helps me maintain my balance, I don’t mind that I am unable to balance with closed eyes. Clearly I would be in trouble should my sight deteriorate and will have to think again.

    I have been practising pilates for core abdominal strength as well as balance, yoga for flexibility and balance and using hand weights while exercising to improve my muscle tone, following all your excellent advice. Plus using a lot of the recipes you have put on line. Although I have osteoporosis, mainly from being on steroids for over 3 years (though now I’m off them) this hasn’t caused any problems and I am still able to take part in running events, 10k and half marathons.

    Thanks again for the good advice and suggestions for improving bone density.

  2. Mick Cook June 4, 2014, 3:02 am

    Dear Vivian
    I have been trying to follow an alkaline diet as per your recommedations for the osteoporosis I have been diagnosed with. However I find it very confusing in regards to the difference between acid/alkaline charts. e.g I eat 2 bananas each day as a smoothy with some yoghurt and natural honey. Some charts indicate that this would be acidic due to the sugar overload from the bananas and honey. The difference in charts seems to revolve around whether the ash is measured in a laboratory at high temperatures whereby the sugar is burnt off and therefore register that particular food as alkaline ( presuming that sugar is aciidic). Other methods of measuring the ash don’t include the burnt off sugar and therefore register the same food as acidic. If you follow the principle of this last method, then you exclude most fruits that have sugar such as bananas, pineapple, apples etc. because they will be acidic to the body.
    Question: which is the right method to follow in regards to determining the ash residue because it makes a huge difference to what foods one eats?……..also, what information is available to support the right choice
    Thank you very much for considering my comment/question

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 5, 2014, 8:09 am

      Hi Mick,
      I understand how it can seem so confusing! The fact is, different labs can provide different results. You will continue to find discrepancies, both in our lists and others. The important thing is not to focus on any particular food and simply attempt to reach a healthy balance! And remember this from the Program: “However, the good news is that even if we don’t have the exact pH for a few foods, by following the Save Our Bones program we are way ahead of the rest of the population that eats a very acidic diet.”

      In addition, there are degrees of acidity and alkalinity. Some charts show ranges from mildly to highly acidic or alkaline. I don’t take this approach, because I want to keep it simple and avoid additional complications with individual food items. :)

      And remember that completely avoiding acidic foods is not the recommended approach. Some people think that I only recommend alkalizing foods, but this is not the case! In fact, many acidifying foods contain important nutrients and are listed as Foundation Foods. The important thing is to balance acidifying and alkalizing foods in the approximate correct proportion.

      I hope this helps!

    • lynda cosgrove June 4, 2014, 2:58 pm

      theres a point at which those alkaline foods become acid @one is to overdo giving the digestive systrm too mich to digest=acid residue.

  3. Bev June 3, 2014, 7:23 pm

    Should the test be done barefoot or with shoes on?

  4. Steve June 3, 2014, 11:45 am

    Makes you wonder how blind people adapt. The body is amazing, yea?!

  5. shula June 2, 2014, 9:21 pm

    Enjoying the information and the exercise.

  6. Helene June 2, 2014, 6:34 pm

    I have just done the balancing test and can only do 3 seconds – I am 78. The difficulty comes by having the eyes closed.

  7. Roseann Horensky June 2, 2014, 12:26 pm

    I am taking letozole as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer. My oncologist has VERY STRONGLY recommended that I take Fosomax because I have a T-score of -.3 in my right femoral arm and letrozole lowers estrogen production, which lowers bone density.

    Do I have a choice now that I am taking letrozole? Is it possible to build bones naturally while taking this drug?

    Roseann

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 2, 2014, 12:36 pm

      Hi Roseann,

      I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and wish you the best possible outcome!

      Letrozole (Femara) and other estrogen-inhibiting drugs do have a negative effect on bones, so that’s actually even more reason to follow a program like Save Our Bones that can counteract some of those effects. The Save Our Bones Program can offer protection against bone loss caused by Femara – it’s a better option than yet more prescription drugs, which add to the toxic load.
      The Program aims to retain the necessary minerals in the body so as not to deplete bones, and it does this by maintaining an alkaline blood pH. In fact, some scientists believe that an alkaline pH not only helps retain important minerals, it also may stave off cancer from recurring. So it may have a double benefit!

      This is something that only you can decide. Take the time to research your options, and then make your own educated and knowledgeable decision. :)

  8. Marlene Villar June 2, 2014, 11:51 am

    Dear Vivian,
    Thank you very much for this excellent information and a reminder for
    me to be consistent with my balance exercises. I’m doing tai-chi as well
    as vestibular exercises for my vertigo. Yes, I was diagnosed with vertigo
    last 2003 due to motot vehicle accident. Thank you for sharing this
    exercises for our own benefits.
    Have a wonderful day, Take care always. Marlene

  9. Adela Luckingham June 2, 2014, 11:18 am

    I’m practiceing Tai Chi for my balance excercise.

  10. Elizabeth June 2, 2014, 7:47 am

    I think the difficult part about the test is to remain balanced with your eyes closed. I do a lot of balancing exercises with yoga and pilates, involving standing on one leg and can balance really well for 2 or 3 minutes or more. Similarly at other exercise classes, where our stretching exercises involve several balance exercises. Unfortunately when when I close my eyes I soon lose my balance, no more than 4 or 5 seconds. I would imagine most people even with good balance would have difficulty balancing with their eyes closed.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 2, 2014, 8:21 am

      Yes, that’s true, Elizabeth – and it’s why the test is so revealing!

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