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
Exercise & physical activity: National Institute on Aging. National Institute on Aging website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed April 11, 2018.
Falls in the elderly. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 23, 2018. Accessed April 11, 2018.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/injury/index.html. Updated March 27, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2018.
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.
Rubenstein LZ, Josephson KR, Trueblood PR, et al. Effects of a group exercise program on strength, mobility, and falls among fall-prone elderly men. J of Gerontology Series A-Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences. 2000;55:M317-M321.
Samelson EJ, Zhang Y, Kiel DP, Hannan MT, Felson DT. Effect of birth cohort on risk of hip fracture; age-specific incidence rates in the Framingham Study. Amer J Public Health. 2002;92(5):858-862.
Taggart HM. Effects of tai chi exercise on balance, functional mobility, and fear of falling among older women. Appl Nurs Res. 2002;15(4):235-242.
12/11/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Leveille SG, Jones RN, Kiely DK, et al. Chronic musculoskeletal pain and the occurrence of falls in an older population. JAMA. 2009;302(20):2214-2221.
Last reviewed April 2018 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 4/11/2018
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.