If you've ever wondered how long you'll live, this 10-second trick might give you some insight.
Here's how it works: Balance on one foot and count to 10. It might sound like a simple task, but not for everyone.
The possible link between the balance test and mortality was discovered during a recent study that focused on middle-aged and older individuals.
The research, published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that people who failed the 10-second balance test were nearly twice as likely to die in the next 10 years, NBC News reported.
Unlike aerobic fitness, muscle strength and flexibility, balance tends to be reasonably preserved until the sixth decade of life, when it starts to diminish quickly, according to the study. However, balance assessment isn't routinely included in health checks for middle-aged and older adults -- possibly because a standardized test doesn't exist. Researchers say this study provides evidence for that to change.
The study assessed nearly 1,702 individuals aged 51 to 75 between 2008 and 2020 and found that overall, one in five failed the test and the inability to pass the test rose with age. Those who failed the test also had poorer health, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, the study noted.
When comparing survival curves and risk of death according to an individual's ability or inability to complete the balance test, researchers found those who failed the test were 84% more likely to die from any cause within the next decade.
Researchers say the study shows a potential benefit to including the balance test in routine health checks for older patients.
The test "provides rapid and objective feedback for the patient and health professionals regarding static balance," the study notes. "The routine application of a simple and safe static balance test adds useful information regarding mortality risk in middle-aged and older men and women."