EXERCISE FOR FALL PREVENTION

Get Stronger and Fall Down Less! (or not at all)

September is Healthy Aging Month.  According to the CDC, elderly people benefit greatly from being active, as do the rest of us.  You may not want to think about it, but it’s never too early to learn how to age well.  Whether you are young or old, physical activity improves your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.

Your risk of falling and injuring yourself increases as you get older.  More than a fourth of seniors fall every year.  Every 11 seconds, an elderly person is being treated for a fall in the Emergency Room.  These accidents can lead to fractures, broken bones, loss of confidence and more serious injuries.  Unfortunately many of these events can be life-changing. One of the most beneficial things you can do to minimize your risk of falling is to exercise.

Physical activity is a great way to add more years to your life.  Being active also improves the quality of your life by keeping you healthy and independent.  When a person becomes unable to take care of themselves, they often become fearful, depressed, angry and guilt-ridden.  This negatively affects their health, disposition and outlook.  What you do today will benefit you greatly today as well as tomorrow.

How Does Exercise Help in Fall Prevention?

Exercise improves your strength, posture and flexibility.  This boosts your coordination and balance which makes it less likely you will fall.  Strength training improves bone density.  Stronger bones mean fewer fractures and better balance.  Pressure is taken off joints when surrounding muscles are strengthened, leading to less pain and stiffness.  Physical activity decreases and reverses muscle loss, as well as improving mobility and burning fat.  It also improves your stamina so you can do more.

What Types of Exercises Are Best for Fall Prevention?

Ideally a combination of strength training, balance, flexibility and aerobic exercise.  But keep in mind that any physical activity –such as walking or stair climbing–  is going to help keep you more upright and agile.

Top Five Exercises for Fall Prevention

  1.  Sit to Stand.  Stand in front of a chair or sofa.  Push your hips back and slowly lower them down towards the surface.  Press through your heels to return to an upright position.  Work up to 10 repetitions.
  2. Heel-Toe Walking. Stand with your arms out straight to the side.  Place the heel of your front foot in front of the toe of your back foot.  Alternate this movement pattern while walking in a straight line.  Work up to 20 steps.
  3. Marching in Place. Lift one knee up towards your waist at a time, alternating, while swinging your arms. Work up to 60 seconds at a time.
  4. Balance on One Leg.  Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.  Lift one knee up and hold for about 30 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.  Repeat 4 more times per leg.
  5. Leg Extensions.  Sit in a chair.  Straighten one leg in front of you without locking out your knee.  Hold for a second and lower slowly.  Repeat up to 15 times per leg.  This exercise can decrease knee pain by increasing quad strength.

How Much Exercise Should I Do?

Shoot for 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes at least five days a week.  This can be broken down into three ten minute segments daily.  It’s best to include strength training at least two days a week.

The Takeaway

If you are afraid of falling down as you get older, don’t slow down get moving!  You’re never too young or too old to improve how well you age.  You can feel and look younger than your years by staying active.  This will allow you to stay independent and keep doing what you love to do for years to come.  

Your fitness routine doesn’t have to involve a drastic change  –just add more movement to your days.  Switch up your activities for maximum benefit and entertainment.  Cardio will help you battle fatigue, while balance work will help keep you upright.  Strength training is great for building muscle and strengthening bones.  If you want to be able to move your joints through their full range of motion, flexibility training is for you.  Combine them all and you will greatly reduce your risk of falling.  This is a pleasurable and totally doable way to improve your longevity and quality of life. 

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Health.gov;  aging.ohio.gov;  ncoa.org;  thegreenfields.org;  medineplus.gov;  HelpGuide.org;  dailycaring.comg

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