Protocol - Balance

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The One Leg Stand from the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study is an examiner-administered test to evaluate a persons balance. A technician asks the participant to maintain his/her balance by standing on one foot as long as possible, up to 30 seconds. The participant may choose which foot to stand on. One or two trials are attempted, depending on the participants willingness and how long he/she can maintain his/her balance.

A technician provides instructions, follows a script, demonstrates how to perform the test, uses a stopwatch to time the person, and enters the result on a form. Results are entered to the hundredth of a second.

Specific Instructions

Portions of this protocol that are specific to the Health ABC study have been removed to avoid confusion.

This protocol has been validated in individuals 70 years and older; the Skin, Bone, Muscle and Joint Working Group suggests that it may also be used in people in their 60s.

The Skin, Bone, Muscle and Joint Working Group recommends that the participant complete the One Leg Stand with their eyes open.




One Leg Stand

a) Describe the position.

Script: "I would like you to try to stand on one leg for 30 seconds. You may stand on either leg, whichever is more comfortable. Ill demonstrate."

b) Demonstrate the one leg stand by lifting the opposite leg so that the toes are about 2 inches off the floor. The knee should be flexed. While demonstrating say:

Script: "Try to hold your foot up until I say stop. If you lose your balance put your foot down."

c) Allow the participant to hold onto your arm to get balanced. Say:

Script: "Hold onto my arm while you get in position. When you are ready, let go."

Start timing when the participant lets go.

Stop the stopwatch if they take a step or grab a support. Record to 0.01 second how long participant is able to hold this position.

Say, "STOP" after 30 seconds.

d) If the participant holds the position for 30 seconds, stop the exam. Otherwise, perform a second trial of the One Leg Stand.

Script: "Now, lets do the same thing one more time."

Score as follows:

If the participant refuses to do the test or cannot understand the instructions, score "Participant refused."

If the examiner does not allow the participant to attempt a stand, score "Not attempted, unable."

If the participant cannot attain the position at all or cannot hold it for at least one second, score "Unable to attain position or cannot hold for at least one second."

Record to 0.01 second how long participant is able to hold each position.

Personnel and Training Required

The person who administers the test should either observe the test being administrated by an experienced examiner or attend a Health ABC training session. The person should also be experienced at assisting the elderly.

Equipment Needs

Digital stopwatch

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Physical Measurement




Adults age 70 and older

Selection Rationale

This balance test is relatively easy to administer and was used during a major epidemiology study of more than 3,000 participants.


Chinese, English

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Balance proto 64388-2 LOINC
Human Phenotype Ontology Postural instability HP:0002172 HPO
caDSR Form PhenX PX170801 - Balance 6185954 caDSR Form
Derived Variables


Process and Review

Not applicable.

Protocol Name from Source

Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, Operations Manual Volume XIII, One Leg Stand, 2007


National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging. The Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. Operations Manual Volume XIII. One Leg Stand. 2007.

General References


Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX170801010000 Time participant holds position during first more
one leg stand show less
PX170801010100 Time participant holds position during first more
one leg stand show less
PX170801020000 Time participant holds position during more
second one leg stand show less
PX170801020100 Time participant holds position during more
second one leg stand show less
Measure Name


Release Date

January 21, 2010


This measure tests the respondent's ability to maintain his/her balance while standing on one leg.


This measure can be used to assess the respondent's balance, which reflects strength, coordination, and flexibility. The measure can be used to assess risk of falls.


Health ABC Study, movement, physical activity, arthritis, balance, stance, gait, flexibility, muscle strength, older adults, elderly, senior citizen, functional ability, physical fitness, physical functioning, lower extremity, seniors, tremor, gerontology, aging, geriatrics, bone, joint

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
170801 Balance

There are no publications listed for this protocol.