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Is Standing on One Leg Like a Flamingo a Good Idea?



There is new research out and it is all about being able to stand on one leg as if you were a flamingo.

What does the research say?

A team of scientists from around the world have got together to come up with a test called the one-legged stance test or OLS. 

Participants were asked to balance on one leg with the front of the foot on their free leg placed on the back of the lower part of the standing leg - in much the same way as a flamingo would.  

This test has been found to be an indicator of how long you may live.

  • Those participants numbered 1702 people aged from 51 to 75 who lived in Brazil.
  • Each person was asked to remove their shoes and socks, stand unsupported on one leg gazing straight ahead with arms by their sides - for ten seconds.
  • They were permitted three attempts to perform it.
  • Overall, one in five people or twenty per cent failed.
  • More than half or fifty four per cent among the 71 to 75 age group were unable to balance compared to just five percent of the 51 to 55 year olds, eight percent of the 56 to 60 year olds, eighteen percent of the 61 to 65 year olds and thirty seven percent of 66 to 70 year olds.

What happened next?

The researchers kept tabs on the participants for a number of years.  After an averages of seven years, they found 129 or seven percent of the participants had died.

Those who died included 17.5 percent of the people who failed the flamingo test compared to 4.6 percent of those who passed.

The team concluded that an inability to stand unsupported on one leg for ten seconds was associated with an 84 percent increased risk of death in the follow up period.


The study has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine with the researchers suggesting that it could be beneficial if the test was included as part of a routine physical exam in middle aged and older people.

I am sure you will try out this test for yourself - whatever your age!  I know I will...


I have always had a soft spot for flamingos as I spent my early teens living in a place called Nakuru in the Rift Valley in Kenya.  The town overlooked a soda lake which was a nesting site for flamingos.  Even from a distance, you could always see the pink coloring of the birds.

You can see them below on Lake Nakuru.