Standing on One Leg May Prevent Hip Fractures

The inability to stand on 1 leg for 10 seconds or to squat down to reach the floor represent strong early predictors of hip fracture and mortality in postmenopausal women, according to a 15-year follow-up study presented here at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) 2014 annual meeting.

Weight-bearing exercise is important for the health of your bones, because it strengthens them and helps to prevent further bone loss as you age.
But what about balance exercise?
Isn't this very important too?
According to the ASBMR the inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds is a strong predictor of hip fracture.
Most of us include some form of balance exercise in our daily workout, whether it's heel lifts, yoga or Tai Chi; but can you actually stand on one leg as long as you need to, to strengthen your hip and improve your balance?

Dynamic balance training helps prevent falls and assists in normal daily activities while strenthening your hip. This study showed that balancing on one leg and doing squats - where you squat and touch the floor without losing your balance - can strengthen your hip and prevent fractures.

In this study they tested 2791 women, over the age of 59 and followed them for over 15 years and tested them for functional decline; those who couldn't stand for 10 seconds on one leg, squat to the floor without losing their balance and weren't able to accomplish the grip test had statistically higher incidences of hip fracture. If this sounds like you, try adding one-legged standing and squats to your exercise routine.

One-legged standing can be done during your workout or while you are busy with some other daily task.
Some like to do this while they are brushing their teeth or doing their dishes.
If you spend the recommended amount of time cleaning your teeth while standing on one leg you'll help to prevent future fractures and improve your balance at the same time.
If you should lose your balance, you can reach out to your bathroom or kitchen counter and balance yourself.
According to K. Sakamoto, Unipedal standing captures the 2.75 times weight load to the femoral head. Unipedal standing for one minute is equivalent to the amount of integral load gained through walking for approximately 53 minutes.Unipedal standing balance exercise in one minute 3 times per one day is useful to create the proximal femoral bone density and to prevent falls.We believe daily unipedal standing balance exercise should contribute toward overcoming prevention of hip fractures.

If you have difficulty standing on one leg or doing squats, start out slow and build up till you can increase the amount of time it takes to complete these exercises.
Keep track of how long you can do each of these movements and practice it daily or at least several times a week to increase your endurance, balance and hip strength.

This type of balance and strength training should never replace other types of weight-bearing exercise but you can do both to improve the health of your skeleton.


Melville (9-13-2014) Leg-stand Test Predicts Hip-Fracture Risk in Women: Retrieved 9-20-2014

Pam Flores
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Pam Flores

Pam wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Osteoporosis.