What it means if you can't stand on one leg

Think you're at risk of a stroke? Then try standing on one one leg for at least 20 seconds, a new study says. Japanese researchers had nearly 1,400 women and men, with an average age of 67, try the balancing act for at least a minute—and found that those who lasted less than 20 seconds were more likely to have already suffered a small stroke, WebMD reports.

Such strokes are considered a serious contributor to dementia and mental decline. People who can't go 20 seconds "should receive increased attention, as this physical frailty may signal potential brain abnormalities and mental decline," says chief study author Yasuharu Tabara.

Those who failed the test were at greater risk of small vessel disease like "infarctions"—ischemic strokes caused by a block or leak in the brain's blood supply, Medical Daily reports.

Worse, such strokes show no symptoms. So the one-leg test "may be an inexpensive, low-tech method to screen people for small vessel disease who are most likely at risk for further strokes and brain damage," says a vascular neurologist.

Published in the journal Stroke, the study recalls a finding earlier this year that 53-year-old men and women who could rapidly stand and sit in a chair for a minute, and stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds, were at less risk of an early death, the Telegraph reports.

(Another study shows that half of Dr. Oz's advice is all wrong.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Hoping to Fend Off Dementia? First, Stand on One Leg

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