20-Second Brain Health Test

Try to balance on one leg for 20 seconds. Sounds easy right? Maybe not so much for some people. The authors of a study published in Stroke developed a simple, low-cost test for brain health: balance on one leg for at leg for at least 20 seconds. Participants who could not complete this task were more inclined to have suffered from silent strokes, damaging tiny blood vessels in the brain. Balance, memory, and thinking skills can be affected as well.

Nearly 1,400 individuals, both men and women with an average age of 67 were part of this study. They were asked to stand on one leg, keep their eyes open, and maintain balance for at least 20 seconds. Each participant was also tested for brain health with the use of brain magnetic resonance imaging and a questionnaire on the computer.

More than 30% of the subjects who could not complete this task were found to have cerebral small vessel disease, minute hemorrhages, or both. Cerebral small vessel disease develops when the capillaries in the brain thicken and impede the flow of blood. The capillaries can bleed and cause hemorrhaging in the brain, which can then lead to a stroke.

Even though some of the subjects felt healthy, there was still a possibility of underlying problems. Try it now. If you feel concerned about your balance or health, reach out to a doctor.


Tabara Y, Okada Y, Ohara M, et al. Association of Postural Instability with Asymptomatic Cerebrovascular Damage and Cognitive Decline: The Japan Shimanami Health Promoting Program Study. Stroke, 2015; 46: 16-22.

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