As you get older, not only does the risk of having a fall increase, but so do its negative effects. In fact, falls account for about 40% of all injury-related hospitalisations in Australia every year. While you could break a bone or knock your head, having a fall also reduces your confidence making it more likely that you’ll have another. However, there are things that you can do about it! By exercising in the right ways, you can strengthen your body and improve your balance and confidence. This will make it much less likely you’ll have a fall, whether it’s the first time or the fifth. Read on to learn how you can use exercise to prevent falls.
What Causes Age-Related Falls?
As we all age, our motor, sensory and neurological systems change. This affects our abilities and put us at a greater risk of falling. With less strength, balance and a slower reaction time, what may have once been a small stumble gradually becomes harder to recover from.
Don’t think there’s a particular age at which you’re now more likely to have a fall. Age-related deterioration has more to do with inactivity rather than the number of years we’ve been alive for. Therefore, a fit 65-year-old may be just as likely to fall than a less fit 45-year-old. However, that’s what lets us do something about it…
How Exercising Right Can Reduce Your Risk of Falling
Recently, researchers have found that exercise goes a long way to reducing our risk of falls as we age. But, this doesn’t mean you have to start working out like you did when you were 21!
Things like tai chi, yoga and pilates are excellent options to stay fit and strong. These types of exercise all require you to move your centre of gravity while using your strength to maintain your upright balance.
Like most things in life, when you don’t practice something, you eventually lose it. Your balance and strength aren’t exceptions to the rule. By working on these skills, when you do have a small trip, you’ll be much better able to use your hip, core and leg muscles to keep yourself upright and prevent what could have been a serious incident.
How to Exercise to Prevent Falls
Researchers have also shown that it’s not just any type of movement that will help to protect us. To be most effective, your exercise program should include muscle-strengthening exercises that challenge your balance. Exercises such as standing side leg raises, one leg squats and faster movements that activate your muscles quickly are extremely beneficial. Aim for at least 3 hours of exercise per week.
There’s no particular age that you should start to exercise to prevent falls. In fact, the earlier you start the better. However, it’s important that your program is appropriately tailored to your current level of fitness and strength. This means that it should also progress appropriately as you build muscle and refine your skills. The best way to do this? Work with a qualified professional who has experience in training older clients.
If you’re located in the St Kilda area and are looking for a friendly and experienced personal trainer who’ll take the time to design your own program of exercise to prevent falls, get in touch with me today. Whether you’ve been lucky enough to avoid having a fall or have experienced it’s startling effects, I can help you to improve your strength and confidence to keep you safe and mobile for many years to come!