The results showed that 20.5 percent of participants failed the balance assessment and that the likelihood of failing roughly doubled at every five-year increment from the age of 51-55 onwards.
The percentage of each age group that failed the tests is as follows:
- 5 percent among the 51-55 age group
- 8 percent among the 56-60 age group
- Slightly less than 18 percent among the 61-65 age group
- Nearly 37 percent among the 66-70 age group
- 54 percent among the 71-75 age group
This means that the risk of falling among the 71-75 age group was 11 times greater than the 51-55 age group.
But the real shocker came when the researchers saw that the proportion of deaths among those who failed the test compared to those who passed was significantly higher — 17.5 percent compared to 4.5 percent, a difference of nearly 13 percent. (The median follow-up period was seven years.)
It should be noted that those who failed the balance assessment were also in poorer health and had conditions such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy blood fat profiles. Those who failed the test who also had type 2 diabetes were also three times (38 percent) more likely to die than those who failed the test who did not have diabetes (13 percent).
After accounting for age, sex and other underlying conditions, researchers concluded that older people who are unable to stand on one leg for 10 seconds had an 84 percent increased risk of death from any cause within the next 10 years. That's almost double the risk of those who could perform this exercise.