Balance is the ability to stay upright or stay in control of body movement. Balance is an important component of
many sports, although it is seldom tested. We use our eyes, ears and 'body sense' to help retain our balance.
There are two types of balance: static and dynamic. Static balance is maintaining equilibrium when stationary,
while dynamic balance is maintaining equilibrium when moving. Dynamic balance is an important component
of agility. Balance can be improved through practice and training within specific sports. This is a simple balance
test that can be modified to suit your situation.
Poor standing balance can put you at risk for falls. You may know of a friend or relative who has sustained a
debilitating hip fracture because of a fall.
Did you know that poor balance has also been linked to neck pain, low back pain, knee instability, and ankle
A simple balance test you can do, in your home, gives you an idea of where you stand when it comes to
balancing ability. The test is called The Single-Leg Standing Balance Test.
Improve your balance
Almost any activity that keeps you on your feet and moving will help preserve your body's balancing system. In
particular, exercises that force your muscles to bear weight and overcome resistance will help support your
joints and improve your stability.
Try t'ai chi
Studies have shown that t'ai chi, a gentle form of ancient Chinese martial arts, improves balance, flexibility,
cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and endurance. Slow, steady motions of the head, eyes, body, and
limbs are performed in coordination with breathing.
Stretch and strengthen
Stretching also is a great way to improve your range of motion, flexibility, and balance. Research suggests that
stretching a few times per week with a set of light weights in your hands may bring even better results than
Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program for the first time, or if you have a medical condition
that affects your ability to exercise safely. Healthy people should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most
days of the week
Here is how you can perform the test:
1. Stand at a door jamb so you will have something
stable to reach for when you lose your balance.
2. Have a friend spot you by standing close behind to
catch you, if necessary.
3. Rest your hands at your side and lift one leg at a
4. Practice your balance with your eyes open for 5-10
seconds on each leg.
5. Time yourself on each leg with your eyes open and
with your eyes closed.
6. Stop the clock when a foot is put down; when your
arms reach out; when you have to grasp something;
or when you begin to hop.
7. Compare your findings with the norms in the table
AGE EYES OPEN EYES CLOSED
(years) (seconds) (seconds)
20-59 29-30 21-28.8
60-69 22.5 average 10
70-79 14.2 4.3
Modifications: to increase the degree of difficulty, the test can be conducted with the person having their arms
either by their sides, held out horizontally, or on their head. You could also conduct the test with their eyes
closed for each of these variations.
If your score is below the norm, you could benefit from balance training exercises.
Are You Losing Your Balance?
Very early in life, your eyes, ears, muscles, brain, and nerves learn how to work in conjunction to keep you
upright. As you age, your balancing skills become less dependable, especially if you don't use them regularly.
Lack of exercise causes a loss of nerve sensitivity, muscle strength, and reflex speed. Staying physically active
helps you keep your balance as you age.
Static Balance Test: Results Chart
4 seconds 70
5 seconds 65
7 seconds 60
8 seconds 55
9 seconds 50
12 seconds 45
16 seconds 40
22 seconds 30-35
28 seconds 25-30