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  • Writer's pictureCRAIG BRYAN

Exercise vs. Falling: Follow a Full Fitness Plan to Overcome the Fear and Stay Safe


You might know already that falls are a leading health hazard for people over 65.

But you might not realize that you need a well-rounded fitness approach to improve balance. It requires a focus on all the components of functional fitness, including mobility, muscular-skeletal, and cardio-respiratory.

“Falling is insidious among older adults and requires a more nuanced approach than training, say, just for strength,” says Christian Thompson, a leading expert in fall prevention and treatment for mature adults.

‘Moving and grooving is complicated’

Christian is a kinesiology professor at the University of San Francisco and owner of a fitness consulting company, Thompson Fitness Solutions. He also recently launched Mobility Matters to help active adults improve function, prevent falls, and move with confidence. He is an author and frequent speaker and serves on the International Advisory Board of the Functional Aging Institute (FAI).

Christian believes exercise is “top of the line, 100 percent necessary” for fall protection and healing.

So does the US Preventive Services Task Force. 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.

Expert also suggest you:

· 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 assu me she’s aware and closely monitoring the list. That’s your responsibility.

· 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.

· 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.

· Eat Well Protein, calcium and vitamin D are good ideas – but are not miracle cures or preventions. Use alcohol in moderation if at all.

Variety of exercise helps

People over 50 who haven’t had problems with falling still often worry about it. Even active adults can fall, despite their athleticism.

Christian encourages focusing on all aspects of fitness to take care of ourselves, rather than just one – like staying limber, for instance, or jogging regularly.

“You have to be a jack of all trades” to really treat the danger of falling, Christian says.

The upside of this? Your workouts should be designed for variety and fun. So you’re less likely to get bored and frustrated. Variety builds success.

Come talk to us about your fitness and function goals – and, yes, whatever worries you have about falling or anything else. We’re here to guide you through the right kind of fitness program to keep you safe, fit and strong.

Fear of falling? Don’t let it hold you back.

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