3 Mini Health Tests You Can Do Right Now (That Might Help Save Your Life)

Scientists say your performance on everyday activities can predict as much about your health as a blood test or a brain scan. If you're worried about your results, ask your doctor if further tests or a treatment plan are needed.

Can You ... Balance On One Leg?

iStock/laflor

Time yourself as you stand on one leg with your eyes open. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds. If you wobble after just 20, you may be at risk for future brain problems. In a Japanese study, 30 percent of older adults who couldn’t balance for this long had microbleeds in the brain. These tiny drops of blood in the brain leaked from vessels are only detectable through MRI and are an early indication of risk for stroke or dementia. While these bleeds are a warning sign of bigger brain problems to come, they have an immediate impact on balance as well as a person's memory and decision making.

Can You ... Move From Sitting In a Chair to Standing?

iStock/baona

And back again? Do this 10 times, and watch the clock to see how long it takes. In the original study, which was performed in the U.K., adults who were able to do 10 reps in 21 seconds or less had higher rates of overall survival than those who took longer to complete the exercise. Doing well on the test requires lower-body muscle strength and power, balance and coordination, and cardiorespiratory fitness. Researchers believe that low levels of performance in the test in mid-life could indicate the presence of underlying disease even before symptoms arise.

Can You ... Touch Your Toes?

iStock/MichaelDeLeon

Sit on the floor with your back and head pressed up against a wall. Reach forward and try to touch your toes. If they're still far, far away from your fingers, you may be at risk for cardiovascular problems. Using this test, researchers at the University of North Texas found that a flexible body was may be a predictor of flexible arteries. The reverse was also true: People who were inflexible (and unable to touch their toes) had stiffer, less elastic arteries than those who were more lithe. When arteries have some give to them, blood can flow easily. When arteries are stiff, due to inactivity or unhealthy habits like smoking, the heart must work harder to pump blood, potentially putting the body at risk for heart attack or stroke.

Content continues below ad

View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.