Exercises you can do to prevent falls
Build balance, strength and flexibility with these exercises.
It can be challenging at any age to avoid a fall, especially when you're faced with slippery sidewalks, objects strewn on the floor at home or walking while you're distracted. As you age, it's especially important to be concerned about taking a tumble. One in three adults over age 65 falls each year, often resulting in serious injuries such as head injuries, hip fractures and broken bones. Health problems associated with hip fractures alone cause more deaths each year in women than breast cancer.
Exercising can help you prevent falls by improving your balance and increasing your strength and flexibility. The best way to help avoid being injured by a fall is to stay physically active and to perform exercises that help strengthen your core and improve your stability, mobility and coordination.
Here are 3 simple exercises that help improve your balance:
- Stand on one leg. You can perform this exercise almost anywhere and at any time. Simply stand on one leg and try to balance for 30 seconds or more. You can begin by placing your hands out to the side to help you balance but eventually you'll want to try to stay steady without arms outstretched. To make this exercise more challenging, close your eyes or stand on a less stable surface, such as a pillow or couch cushion.
- Walk heel to toe. Put one foot in front of the other as you walk in a straight line, lining up the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes on the other foot. Take about 20 steps forward and then 20 steps back.
- Learn tai chi. The flowing movements of tai chi have been shown to improve balance and stability. A study published in 2015 showed that older adults who practiced Tai Chi Chuan for several weeks did better on a series of balance tests at the end of the study than they did at the start. They also performed better than people who spent the same amount of time doing ballroom dancing.