WASHINGTON — There may be a link between balance and brain health.
Researchers in Japan had 1,387 adults stand on one leg, with the other in front and bent at the knee. Their average age was 67 and all were in good health.
Each did the one-leg stand twice and their best time was recorded. Then each participant got an MRI to check for brain abnormalities.
Those who couldn’t balance on one leg for 20 seconds were far more likely to have tiny lesions in the brain, or “microbleeds,” an indicator of possible trouble later on, including an increased risk of stroke and dementia.
The researchers at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine say they adjusted their findings for age and higher blood pressure. But even with these adjustments, people with more microbleeds had shorter one-legged standing times.
Earlier studies have looked at the connection between physical abilities and stroke. This is the first to suggest someone’s ability to keep their balance on one leg is related to the presence of microbleeds in the brain.
The study was published in the American Heart Association’s journal, “Stroke.”