Exercises to Help Prevent Falls
by Diane Voyatzis Norwood, MS, RD, CDE
Falling is increasingly inevitable as you age. However, there are steps you can take to prevent falls.
Impaired balance, a major risk factor for falling, often worsens with age. It may worsen because of decreased strength, agility, and flexibility, or as a result of illness, sensory impairment, or certain medications. If you have chronic pain, this can also increase your risk of falling.
The good news is, certain exercises may improve balance and strength in people of all ages. Read on about balancing acts, which you may want to try at home to minimize falls and remain independent for as long as possible.
Research: Paving the Way to Steadier Steps
Studies have shown that people who perform regular exercises to improve lower body strength and balance can decrease their risk of falls and fall-related injuries. In addition, some research supports the practice of tai chi to reduce falls.
Before Getting Started
Keep in mind that although exercise may reduce fall-related fractures in healthy seniors, it may increase risk in seniors with functional limitations. Therefore, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, including the exercises listed below. Assistance during exercise, or an organized exercise program, may be necessary for some people.
Also, be aware that obstacles in the home may contribute to loss of balance and subsequent falls. Start by removing obstacles in your home that may contribute to loss of balance. For instance:
Strength- and Balance-Building Exercises
After checking with your doctor, you may want to try some of these exercises at home or find out about community exercise programs. These exercises were adapted from The National Institute on Aging.
Increasing the Challenge
As your balance improves, you may want to increase the difficulty of these exercises by making the following modifications:
Other Exercises to Build Balance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute on Aging
Canada Safety Council
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Panel on Prevention of Falls in Older Persons, American Geriatrics Society and British Geriatrics Society. Summary of the Updated American Geriatrics Society/British Geriatrics. Society clinical practice guideline for prevention of falls in older persons. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011;59(1):148-157.
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Last reviewed April 2018 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 4/11/2018
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