It might sound like a bizarre new party game, but standing on one leg can actually be an indication as to how fit you are. 

This summer, to raise awareness of the impact aging has on strength, balancing and agility, clinicians in Suffolk and northeast Essex are asking people of all ages to see how long they can stand on one leg.  

NHS research shows that you should be able to stand on one leg for 43 seconds if you are aged between 18 and 39. 

If you are between 40 and 49, you should be able to manage 40 seconds. For 50 to 59-year-olds, the target is 37 seconds, 30 seconds for the 60 to 69 age group, and between 18 and 19 seconds if you are 70 to 79. 

For the over-80s, anything over five seconds is a positive indicator of your health.

The rules: 

  • Keep your eyes open and your hands on your hips 
  • Stand on one leg without any other support 
  • Time starts when your foot leaves the ground and stops when you put your foot back down (or take your hands off your hips) 

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, an inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds in mid to later life is linked to a near doubling in the risk of death from any cause within the next 10 years. 

Bury Mercury: Research shows that adults aged under 40 should be able to stand on one leg for 43 seconds. Image: Archant archivesResearch shows that adults aged under 40 should be able to stand on one leg for 43 seconds. Image: Archant archives (Image: Archant archives)

The county's health trust has suggested seeing if you can maintain the pose for your age category, but advise that even if you are feeling confident, not to try maintaining the pose for longer than one minute. 

Selina Lim is the divisional director for integrated pathways at the NHS East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. 

She said: “By taking part in the ‘flamingo challenge’ people can quickly and easily assess for themselves whether they are at risk. If they are, there are lots of different activities they can engage in that can help improve their overall fitness.”