Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries.
Exercise is a good way to help prevent falls.
Some people think that the best thing to do if you’ve fallen, or if you’re afraid of falling, is to be less active. Why take the chance of falling again, right? Well, research shows that seniors who are less active are more likely to fall, because they lack strength and balance they need to resist falls. This is why health care professionals recommend starting a regular exercise routine of any kind – even if you start by taking only a few steps every day.
How do you get started exercising? Go slow! As the saying goes “everything in moderation.” If you’re like many people, you’ll discover it only takes a few weeks to benefit from exercise – more strength, improved balance, higher energy, and a feeling of well-being that makes it all worth the modest effort. Remember, before starting any exercise regimen, your first step should be to consult with your doctor.
Exercise may improve your strength and stamina, and giving your heart, lungs and the rest of your cardiovascular system even a modest workout can make a tremendous difference in the way you feel, in your energy level, and in the way you go about enjoying life as best you can.
Balance – When you were very young, you had to learn to balance yourself, and unless you continue to use your balance under safe conditions, this vital skill diminishes. Balance also helps you to keep the mass of your body over your feet, which helps you maintain your stability when moving your weight from one position to another.
Gait – Regain some of the spring in your step and practice walking (either alone, or with a cane or walker) with a stronger, safer and more fluid gait.
Reflexes – Exercise can make you more responsive and help you react more safely to obstacles in your path and other potential dangers.
Moving your body every day can help you feel better and enjoy life more. Thirty minutes of exercise a day is recommended, but break it into 10-15 minutes blocks if that is easier — it’s the daily total that matters.
This article is made possible with Older Americans Act dollars from the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging.