Standing on one leg is a sign of good health

Whether it is the Yoga tree pose, a one leg lift pose or something similar, standing on one leg has been shown to improve one’s health. In an article from last fall, called “Standing on one leg is a sign of good health – and practising is good for you too” by Dawn Skelton of Glasgow Caledonia University, a few data based observations are noted. Here a few paragraphs:

“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.

Being able to stand on one leg is linked to increased levels of physical activity and decreased risk of falls and is associated with both quality and length of life. Around 37.3 million falls per year worldwide are severe enough to require medical attention.

The inability to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer is linked in otherwise healthy people to an increased risk of small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced ability to understand ideas. You are less likely to be able to stand on one leg without a wobble if you have a multitude of medical conditions such as Parkinson’s diseasestroke or Alzheimer’s disease). 

Pregnancy, menopause, the diagnosis of diseaseand retirement can also alter our strength and balance and ability to stay upright, mostly because of the way these affect our ability and motivation to engage in regular physical activity.

Sitting or reclining while awake is associated with lower muscle strength, risk of falls and physical function, sometimes irrespective of the amount of moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity you do. People who sit for prolonged periods are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, higher waist circumference and obesity.”

I have noted before a gerontologist said there are two key points in the life of older people that hasten their demise. One is the inability to drive, while the other is the inability to walk. If we can continue to walk on our own, the better off our health will be. The ability to maintain your weight on one leg will help in this regard. I would also argue the ability to push yourself off the floor will help when you do fall.

Standing on one leg for twenty seconds won’t occur immediately as there are balancing issues. So, start with a few seconds and stand near a wall or imbedded bookshelf where you can rebalance if you teeter a little. Even though I can stand for a count of thirty with various arm stretches in a tree pose per each leg, I still stand next to a set of shelves if I start to teeter. But, I built up to that number of counts.

So, best wishes on the one leg standing exercises. If you want to see options just google “one leg standing exercise” and see what pops up. There are a number of sites to choose from. One bit of caution on the Yoga tree pose, make sure you don’t place your foot to the side of your other knee as it will cause some undue pressure on the knee. Either go above or below the knee or cross the leg over the other.

28 thoughts on “Standing on one leg is a sign of good health

  1. Note to Readers: As someone who has worked out for ages, sometimes in fits and starts, a lesson I learned a long time ago is to start slow. If you can’t do ten repetitions, do three or five. If you cannot work out for fifteen minutes a day, do five minutes. My workouts vary three separate stretching routines, but I do them AFTER I get out of the shower. The hot water loosens up my old bones and muscles and then I stretch. My workouts last about twenty minutes. If I do not complete them, I have been known to stand up during commercials and stretch some.

    My routines vary pieces of Yoga, Pilates, calisthenics, and isometrics. I focus on routines that will help, not harm my lower back, eg. Also, these old knees hurt, so I avoid Yoga routines where I put pressure on my knees. Note, you don’t have to do those pretzel exercises to make Yoga work for you. Plus, the full breathing during exercise has a meditative and medicinal effect.

  2. Good, sound advice, Keith. I walk a few miles a day and lift weights, but I’d forgotten about that simple but important “balancing act.” Focusing on something at eye level and tightening the core while balancing helps.

    • Annie, well said. Good luck on working this into your routines. At the end of every set of exercises, I finish with the Yoga tree pose. Best wishes. Keith

  3. Great warning about the knee during tree pose. One note of encouragement, a trainer told me several years ago that increasing balance is one of the quickest skills to improve. And the exercises she had be doing seemed to bear that out. I felt like I improved practically from one day to the next. But I think balance also diminishes very quickly, if not practiced. Unfortunately, I’m really poor at working out consistently from home and I have totally divorced myself from the gym since COVID.

  4. Only a couple hours ago, I saw on Instagram “standing on one leg means you live longer”. Of course, I tried to stand on one leg immediately… lol. When it worked I tried to stand on the other leg and thank God, it worked too.

      • Yes, they are different, like the eyes don’t have the same visual strength. One of the proves we are no robots… lol

      • True. It is interesting how asymmetrical we are. And, I think it adds character to people. I have always preferred our “perfect imperfections” as John Legend sang about.

      • Yes, we are not geometric at all, not even our faces. I think it would even look unnatural if they were. However, I like that too, because those imperfections make us perfectly unique.

      • Erika, not to begrudge those models who are more perfectly crafted, I have always appreciated women more who are not picture perfect. To me, they appear more genuine. Keith

      • I understand what you mean, Keith. The imperfection feels more real and more special. Beauty in its own unique way. What would be so interesting if we all were exactly the same…

      • Erika, beauty marks are called that for a reason to me. An imprecise nose adds character to me. Or, maybe one eyebrow accents her face a little differently than the other. I would wager women find the same to be true in men. Keith

  5. Okay, as a person with multiple health issues, including balance issues in part due to near-deafness, I have a question … this standing on one leg … does it require free-standing, or can one be using their hands to hold onto objects such as a railing, piece of furniture, or countertop. Now, I know that sounds silly, but in truth, I have trouble balancing on two legs, and going down stairs is particularly treacherous because I am on one leg for a second or two and likely to topple if I’m not holding the railing. Thanks, though, for the info … I think I shall make Chris & ‘Tasha start standing on one leg for a while each evening!

    • Jill, on one of the websites, they showed using the chair to balance with. So, you could grab the back of the chair, and lift one leg behind you just off the ground. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: One thing I learned doing Yoga, there are many moves this old body could never attempt. There are moves a younger version of my body could never attempt. The beauty of Yoga, Pilates et al is one can still get a good workout without having to indulge in too strenuous exercises. If you can’t do something, do a simpler version or don’t do it all. If you want two good poses to do look at the Warrior pose and the Tree pose. Those will get you started.

  7. Note to Readers: The following is a brief one leg standing exercise, but works for arms and legs. I use it to warm up an warm down for yard work or swimming.

    Standing with feet shoulder width, place both arms straight up with palms facing each other. Alternating legs, lift one leg up until your thigh is parallel to the ground. At the same time, pull your arms down with palms still facing each other until your upper arms are parallel to the ground close to the elevated leg. Lower the leg and lift your arms above your head palms facing. Then raise the other leg and lower the arms.

    Breathe in when lowering the leg and breathe out when lifting the leg. If you can build up to a count of 24 that would be great. But, you can start with two to six.

  8. Note to Readers: My wife and I were chatting. Since I do my Yoga in our master closet, my foot can get better grounding in the carpet to help with balance. I was taught that you should grab the mat (or carpet) with your curled toes. What I do when I change to the other leg, is put my foot in the previous foot print. I usually don’t teeter, but the imbedded shelf helps when I do.

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