Body balance affects longevity

A standing woman in back wearing a sports team gray top, white blouse and black leggings with a white towel tied on her head has both hands raised above her head and is standing on one foot on a stone in a wooded area.

How do I check it? Dr. Mosley's test

Good body balance in adulthood is an indicator of long life, according to British doctor Michael Mosley, who claims that our ability to control body balance can affect longevity. Our ability to maintain good torso and limb balance reflects whether the body’s internal systems are functioning coherently. And when we take steps to improve our posture, coordination, and strength, it can slow aging.

Balance check

Dr. Mosley suggests a simple test: stand on one leg with your eyes closed. The longer and confidently you stand without leaning on anything, the better balance you maintain. “A large-scale study found a clear link between how long people over 50 can stand on one leg with their eyes closed and their life expectancy,” says the specialist.

Another expert, physiologist Dawn Skelton of Glasgow Caledonian University, notes that everyone’s ability to control their body declines as they age.

The brain is most to blame

“The integration of all body systems that help a person stand upright begins to weaken between 35 and 40 years of age. To keep the body upright, the brain uses neural messages from the balance organs in the inner ear, as well as messages from the human eyes, muscles and joints. The overall flow of signals from them allows it to command the body’s movements in space,” Prof Skelton explains.

As we age, we become less physically active, muscles weaken, and the brain is no longer as good at processing sensory signals from different parts of the body. “If we balance more and more poorly, this can be a marker of poor functioning of the hormonal and cardiovascular systems, or weakening of vision and other sensory organs. But the internal ‘disorientation’ and reduced ability to balance is mostly due to the weakening of the brain,” Prof Skelton says.

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