Falling is a major fear about growing older – and it’s a leading cause of injury and death among mature adults. It's also a common problem for people who don't yet consider themselves “old” in the traditional sense.
But it is not inevitable. Here are the top five ways to prevent falling, according to fitness, health and aging experts.
No. 1: Exercise The US Preventive Services Task Force couldn’t be clearer: Exercise is the best defense against falling. Merely staying active helps, but exercising more than three hours a week lowers fall risk by 39 percent.
Movement includes anything you do consistently, even walking or cleaning house. But you also need to add resistance training, which includes weightlifting and resistance bands. The goal isn’t to get big muscles. It’s to keep you strong enough to prevent falling.
We all lose muscle later in life. Having less strength makes it hard to catch yourself when you trip (which everyone does, regardless of age). And muscle protects bones, so without it, we are vulnerable to breaks.
Strengthen your legs. Even if you’re only in your 50s or 60s.Practice balancing – again, regardless of age. It’s never too early.Exercise helps prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes, which can cause nerve loss and damage in the feet – which makes it hard to stay upright.Every time you exercise, you’re improving your body’s ability to move blood to extremities. And you’re helping your brain’s ability to process where you are in relation to other objects as you move.Our back, hip, and abdominal muscles are collectively called the core. We need it strong for all kinds of reasons. Balance is at the top of them. Core strength allows us to move well at the hip, knee and ankle.
No. 2: Mind the Prescriptions Did you know your risk of falling increases if you take four or more prescription medications? So, talk to your doctor and make sure she knows everything you’re taking and why. Don’t assume she’s aware and closely monitoring the list. That’s your responsibility.
No. 3: Fall-proof Your Home Sixty percent of falls occur at home, the National Institute on Aging says. Remove clutter. Clear walkways of loose throw rugs and electrical cords. Install nightlights. Add support rails in the tub or shower.
No. 4: Wear the Right Shoes Don’t use flip-flops, even on vacation. Wear high heels only indoors, if at all. Get some good walking and exercise footwear.
No. 5: Eat Well Protein, calcium and vitamin D are good ideas – but are not miracle cures or preventions. Use alcohol in moderation if at all.
Exercise to Prevent Falls
Don’t let concern about falling prevent you from enjoying life as much as you can. And don’t put it off as just a worry “for those really old folks.”
Strength and balance are essential throughout life.
We’re here to guide you to a healthy lifestyle that includes safe, effective exercising. Stand tall and walk right in to see us. We’ve got your back.
Sources: Mobility Matters, Functional Aging Institute, Harvard Medical School, US News & World Report, Johns Hopkins