Falls are the leading cause of injuries for people age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC study, more than one in four seniors report at least one fall in an average year.
Aging tends to make you more susceptible to falls. Poorer vision, hearing, and reflexes all can be contributors. Older people also can have trouble sensing where their body is relative to other things, called proprioception.
But exercise can substantially lower your risk of falling. There are simple activities you can try in your own home that are appropriate for nearly all fitness levels. There also are an abundance of fall-prevention programs for seniors.
Be sure to stay safe. Until you get accustomed to the exercises, it’s best to have a spotter in case you need one. With many exercises, you can use a sturdy chair for extra balance. Be sure to take a break if you are feeling tired or unsteady. And if you feel any pain, stop.
Check with your doctor before you begin any exercise program. Here are a few exercises to get you started:
Sit to stand
Grab a sturdy chair with arms. From a standing position, grab the armrests for support and slowly lower into the chair. Then use both your legs and arms to stand up. You can keep another sturdy chair in front of you for extra balance.
Marching in place
Maintaining good posture and using a chair or counter for support, slowly and deliberately march in place.
There are a variety of leg raises you can use to lower your risk of falling. Raising your legs to the side and raising your legs to the back can both be effective. Use a chair or counter for balance.
Toe and heel raises
Start with your feet flat on the ground. Then slowly rise up on your toes and raise your heels. Lower your feet back to the floor, then reverse it, leaning on your heels and lifting your toes.
There are also more advanced activities you can try:
Balance on one leg
Hold on to a counter or hold on to two sturdy chairs of equal height. Bending the knee, raise your foot and balance on one leg for 10 to 15 seconds.
Slowly move one foot in front of the other until they are directly in line. Stand and balance in that position.
Alternating lunges can greatly improve your balance by strengthening your leg muscles.
Slow toe touches
Stand with your feet together, and slowly stretch to reach your toes or as low as you can comfortably go. Try to keep your legs straight.
©2019 Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation. All rights reserved. JO15845 34600-100-1908