Flamingo balance test: If you can’t stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds you are going TO die

A study published in 2022 showed an 84% increase in mortality within 7 years linked to a lack of balance

Which is all very well, but as always, the studies don’t give practical tips on what to do if your balance has been temporarily misplaced (it is never lost).

To elaborate a bit on this study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine ; aside from the obvious attention grabbing headlines, it’s important to note that the increased risk of dying wasn’t from the inability to stand on one leg, it was actually the increased risk of life changing injuries resulting from falls due to a lack of balance and the related reduced coordination and proprioception (awareness of where your body is in space).

This gives us hope because now we’re not going to die imminently, we have a window of opportunity in which to get started…

So. Have you tried the so called ‘Flamingo Balance Test’? What happened?

What Is the Flamingo Balance Test?

Flamingo Balance Test Study

In case you’re wondering – The Flamingo Balance Test is a widely-recognised balance assessment tool, notable for its simplicity and effectiveness. It involves an individual standing on one leg while maintaining balance, mirroring the distinctive posture of a flamingo. The test’s essence lies in its ability to assess static balance and stability, rendering it indispensable across diverse domains like sports medicine, geriatric care, and physical therapy.

Come to think of it, when WAS the last time you stood on one leg? If it’s not a regular practise, as the old saying goes – “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Why Is Balance Important for Older Adults?

Balance is the linchpin of mobility and independence in older adults. It minimizes the risk of falls, a prevalent concern in geriatrics, contributing to sustained physical well-being and enhanced quality of life.

In fact, it’s slightly more complex than that. When we start to become more reliant on two feet rather than one foot, messages get sent to your brain from your body telling it that it’s in danger of falling over.

We are a rather tall structure, standing on the rather small surface area of our feet and with that in mind, the brain now starts to put very specific systems in place to prevent you from falling over.

Firstly, it braces the large muscles in your body. Shoulders, glutes, hamstrings and calves all get employed to sure us up and the stiffness we feel in these muscles is all reassuring the brain that we have a sense of stability.

Secondly, we start looking down at the floor. Watching where we are going also helps your brain to feel that it’s keeping us safe. The problem is, your head is heavy – nearly a stone in weight – and when it’s in a forward position, as it is when it’s looking down, this requires even more stabilisation from the muscles mentioned previously; shoulder, glutes, hamstrings and calves. We get even tighter.

Finally, With the head coming forward and causing yet more messages back to your brain about feeling unstable and the possibility of falling over (and sustaining damage to your body, something that your brain will fight to avoid at all costs), the final set of messages to your body is to lower your centre of gravity so you start to hunch over.

It’s worth noting at this point that no one ever woke up one morning with no balance and the so called ‘dowagers hump’. This body shape is decades in the making and there is no one cause. Our daily activities offer a myriad contributing factors such as sitting at a desk for many hours per day, driving, poor posture, a lack of regular, quality movement and poor breathing habits.

How can I improve my flamingo Balance test score?

Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can is my advice.

It doesn’t have to be big flashy Yoga type moves! If you’re shocked to find that your balance has wandered off from you, the first thing to do is NOT PANIC!

Balance is a practise, not a perfect and working with what you have is key. It will build up over time.


The wall/ worktop/ back of a chair are all your friends. When your brain is in ’emergency mode’ and putting systems in place to stabilise you and keep you safe, you need to reassure it that you’re working with it rather than against it. So, get your hands on the nearest piece of furniture and take time to feel secure.


As I said before, balance isn’t a big flashy, Instagram event! Simply make some circles with your heel (activates your core muscles) and start to lift your heel off the floor. If the toes on the floor help you to feel more stable, leave them there. They’ll eventually start to lift too and then, maybe you can put them behind your opposite ankle.


Little and often is the key to restoring your balance and range of movement, so button your new move into your daily activities like cleaning your teeth, standing in the queue at the supermarket or waiting at the school gate.

Flamingo Balance Test FAQs

  1. What is a good score on the Flamingo Balance Test?
    • A good score is characterized by prolonged balance maintenance with minimal instances of imbalance within the stipulated time.
  2. What factors can affect my Flamingo Balance Test score?
    • Multiple factors, including muscle strength, coordination, and focus, can impact the score, necessitating a multifaceted approach to balance enhancement.
  3. Can I improve my Flamingo Balance Test score at any age?
    • Yes, balance improvement is feasible at any age through consistent practice and targeted interventions.

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