If you can't balance well while standing on one leg, what does that mean for your risk of fracture?
A recent study in Osteoporosis International aimed to answer that exact question. While bone mineral density (BDM) and other clinical risk factors have been used to predict the risk of fracturing a bone, this study looked into how someone's ability to balance on one leg alone predicted the risk of fracture.
Over 2,400 women between the ages of 75 and 80 were tested for their single leg balance (clinically called: one leg standing time, or OLST). These women were followed over the next few years to determine how their balance score impacted their fracture risk. The study found that a low—or under 10 second—one leg standing time meant an increase risk of fracture.
If you are interested in determining your one leg standing time, here's how:
1. Take off your shoes.
2. If you don't always feel steady on your feet, stand with your hand hovering over a countertop or chair. Otherwise, stand with your arms crossed over your chest. Keep your eyes open.
3. Stand on one leg, and bend the other leg backwards at the knee.
4. Hold for 10 seconds. If your elevated foot touches the ground before the end of 10 seconds, you have a low one leg standing time and may be at a higher risk of fractures.
One great thing about balance—you can improve it. Balance exercises are important for everyone, but are especially important for anyone who has been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis.