Exercise is good for overall health. It keeps the heart healthy, the joints lubricated and the muscles strong. It also helps to prevent seniors from falling which is the leading cause of hospitalizations and broken bones for seniors in the United States. Being knowledgeable of the top fall hazards in your home can help prevent falls. Today’s post will focus on encouraging your loved one to get a bit of exercise every day. Here’s how it can help them to prevent a fall.
Exercise prevents falls: Harvard Medical School says that balance training prevents falls and injuries as documented by a study conducted in France. French researchers found that exercise programs reduced falls by seniors that caused injuries by 37%, falls leading to serious injuries by 43%, and broken bones by 61%.
Exercise strengthens muscles: When muscles are stronger they work better. Walking and lifting light weights can help a senior prevent falls, and help them to catch themselves when they begin to fall. These exercises help to develop the following:
- Better reaction time to prevent falls. Stronger muscles and looser joints help a person to keep themselves upright and grab onto something when they fall, rather than falling immediately.
- Better coordination. If arms and legs work well in tandem, as they are supposed to, it is easier to prevent tripping and falling.
- Stronger muscles. The more muscles work the stronger they become. This protects bones and joints and helps to prevent falls.
- Stronger bones. Lifting light weights strengthens bones and that makes them more resistant to breaks.
Exercise keeps the body loose: Stiffness makes a senior more susceptible to falls. Exercise keeps joints, ligaments and tendons loose so that they can work properly. When they do, falls are less likely. Strong joints, ligaments and tendons also improve balance by keeping ankles, legs and hips properly aligned.
Walking improves strength: Walking is a great exercise to help prevent falls. It can improve strength, balance, and endurance. Any senior can start walking outdoors or in a mall in inclement weather. If he or she doesn’t have good balance, a walking buddy can help, or a cane or walker can be used. As the senior gets stronger, they can walk for increasing lengths of time.
Everyday movement increases strength: Teach your loved one how to incorporate small movements during the day. Cumulatively these will strengthen muscles and help to avoid falls.
- Hold onto the sink while brushing teeth, lift one leg up then the other.
- Hold onto a chair and curl one leg up behind the other.
- While waiting in line at the check-out counter, hold onto the carriage and stand on one foot, then the other.
- During the day, try sitting down and standing up without using hands on the arm of the chair for support.
- Heel-toe walk: Walk heel to toe across the floor and then back again to improve balance.
- Over time these exercises will increase balance and muscle strength.
Regular exercise becomes a good habit: Integrating exercise into daily life becomes a healthy habit that can strengthen muscles and prevent falls. When a senior moves regularly they keep the muscles and tendons strong that support joints. Walking, dancing, and senior yoga help make exercise a regular habit.
Now that you have a loose plan, don’t forget about the first step to a fall prevention program - the doctor. Staying in the know will help your loved on in the long run.