WASHINGTON: Struggling to stand on one leg for less than 20 seconds is linked to a higher risk of stroke, small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function, Press Trust of India (PTI) reports citing a study.
“Our study found the ability to balance on one leg is an important test for brain health,” said Yasuharu Tabara, lead study author and associate professor from the Centre for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto, Japan.
“Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline,” Tabara said.
The study involved 841 women and 546 men with an average age of 67.
To measure one-leg standing time, participants stood with their eyes open and raised one leg.
The maximum time for keeping the leg raised was 60 seconds. Participants performed this examination twice and the better results were used in the study analysis.
Cerebral small vessel disease was evaluated using brain magnetic resonance imaging.
Researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease – small infarctions without symptoms such as lacunar infarction and microbleeds.
The study revealed 34.5 percent of those with more than two lacunar infarction lesions had trouble balancing as did 16 percent of those with one lacunar infarction lesion.
Thirty percent of participants with more than two microbleed lesions and 15.3 percent with one microbleed lesion had also trouble balancing.
Overall, those with cerebral diseases were older, had high blood pressure and had thicker carotid arteries than those who did not have cerebral small vessel disease.
However, after adjustment for these covariates, participants with more microbleeds and lacunar infarctions in the brain had shorter times standing on one leg.
Short one-legged standing times were also independently linked with lower cognitive scores.