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A study published in the journal Stroke found that being unable to stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds was linked to an increased risk of 'silent' stroke - tiny bleeds in the brain that don't cause symptoms, but which raise the risk of both full-blown stroke and dementia.Last year, the UK's Medical Research Council found that 53-year-olds who could stand on one leg for ten seconds with their eyes closed were the most likely to be fit and well in 13 years' time.
There is also feedback from your joints and muscles.
Similarly, balance tends to worsen as we age, as sight deteriorates, and the input from joints and muscles can be less reliable as their proprioceptors are reduced by conditions such as arthritis, says Dr Selvadurai.
As we age, we also lose cells in the inner ear that detect movement.
If you wear heels in the office, walk to work in your trainers, for example.'High blood pressure can lead to tiny arteries in the brain hardening, which can lead to balance issues. Keeping weight at a healthy level, regular exercise and cutting back on salt can help to bring it down.
'It can scar the brain's white matter (basically its cabling), which, in turn, disrupts the communication across the cerebral cortex - the part of the brain that governs thinking, movement and planning, but also many of our automatic functions, particularly balance,' says Dr Seemungal. Although balance tends to decline as we age, it needn't be inevitable, says Dr Selvadurai.
If you can't balance on one leg easily, build up to it by trying to stand with your feet as close together as you can.