Simple Exercises Help Prevent Falls
As people age, they become more vulnerable to falls. One out of three people over the age of 65 will fall during any given year. And 45 percent of those who do fall will sustain a serious injury.
A recent study appearing in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society examined the effectiveness of the interventions of education, home safety assessment and modification and exercise training in preventing falls. Although all the interventions helped some, exercise training was significantly more effective and it helped people improve their balance, their reach and reduced their fear of falling.
Exercises that help to prevent falls do not have to be rigorous and you don’t have to go to a gym or lift weights. But you do need to be conscientious and do them regularly, to maintain or improve your balance.
You can do a lot to improve your balance at home, with simple exercises. If you already have balance problems, check with your doctor before attempting any kind of exercise program.
The Mayo Clinic has three very simple exercises on their website which include balancing on one foot, with on foot raised forward, balancing on one foot with one foot raised behind, and a forward toe touch with one arm outstretched. You can begin by using a wall or chair for support, until you are steady enough to practice independent of supports. When you’re really secure, you can practice with your eyes closed.
Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise originating in China and currently being studied by the National Institutes of Health. Tai Chi’s gentle, controlled movements, which often require standing on one leg, help to improve balance. Check with your local YMCA or other community center to see if they offer instruction.
Those of you who walk for health can rest assured that you’re protecting yourself from falls. Studies have shown that regular walking improves both static and dynamic balance.
Don’t wait for a fall to motivate you to work on improving and maintaining your balance. Start today.