Standing On One Leg

Standing On One Leg

In America it’s National Falls Prevention Day so I thought I’d launch my new blog with an update of  something I wrote about falls on my old, steam-powered blog last year.

A couple of years ago I read a study claiming that one of the most accurate indicators of a person’s age was how long he or she could stand on one leg. It sounds like a joke but, in fact, this diminishing ability to balance could be at least part of the reason why we fall more as we get older. Apparently, in any year, around a third of people over the age of 65 fall at least once – and the consequences can range from life-narrowing because you’re frightened of falling again to a life-threatening broken bone.

So I decided to see if I could turn back my biological clock. I started standing on one leg every day while I clean my teeth.

At first I could only manage a few seconds of violent wobbling with my foot at the ready about an inch off the ground. Then, gradually, things improved. Eventually, I was standing in a half lotus position – one leg for two minutes of flossing, the other for two minutes of brushing.

Then I decided to push myself a bit further. I’m happy to report that I can now stay on the same leg for the whole flossing, brushing, tongue cleaning and mouth-washing process, which takes over five minutes and involves a fair bit of arm movement.

I also discovered that, after months of standing in a half lotus, I can now sit in a full lotus again – something I haven’t been able to do since my twenties.

I am quite astounded by this evidence of what a 60-year-old body can learn to do. I also think this is another example of how much value lies in my favourite ‘gentle’ approach to health and well-being. A couple of minutes a day doesn’t sound like much but it can make a huge difference over time – much more difference than a more strenuous regime that gets dropped because you’re asking too much of yourself.

Unfortunately, however, when I tried to find the original reference to reassure myself that I now have a physical age of 16, I could only find one which talks about doing it with your eyes closed.

Click here to see how you can improve your balance.

I barely made my actual age on that one – surely that can’t be right? Give it a go and let me know!