Research shows that people’s ability to stand on one leg is an indicator of health and that getting better at standing on one leg can add to fitness and potentially lifespan.
Why Standing on One Leg MattersData shows that the time people can stand on one leg changes for men and women at different ages—and an inability to hit those target times for your age group can highlight health problems.
The human body, when standing upright, is inherently unstable. We have a very small base of support relative to our height and width. When in good health, we rely on our central and peripheral nervous system to integrate all the information coming in from our balance senses (eyes, inner ears, and feedback from muscles and joints). We then engage the right muscles (feet, ankle, leg, and core muscles, sometimes even the arm muscles) at the right time to make the necessary adjustments to our posture to stay upright.
Should I Start Standing on One Leg?You can improve your ability to stand on one leg at any age, and improve your balance. It’s more challenging if you have a neurological condition, but studies have shown improvements in balance following exercise in many conditions and it is known to reduce falls in many others. In the United Kingdom, around 1 in 3 adults over 65—and half of people over 80—will have at least one fall a year.
Standing on one leg can be made much more challenging if you close your eyes while doing it. This is worth practicing as it helps with our long-term balance and reduces the risk of falling over. With our eyes open, the body becomes lazy and relies on our vision to help keep us balanced. If you subtract vision, it gets the other senses working better. Most people can only do this for a short time compared to when they keep their eyes open. Have something close by to hold on to. You will improve over time.
And on that note, do I stand on one leg? Yes, when I am cleaning my teeth morning and evening, alternating from one leg to another at least twice. If I am feeling bold, I try one round of the teeth with my eyes closed. That, I might add, I am starting to find more difficult—I must practice more.