Falls can cause injuries and health complications, so it’s important to take appropriate steps to avoid them. Causes of a fall may include floor clutter, wearing loose or uncomfortable shoes, environmental hazards, slippery floors or spills, and medications with unexpected side effects. Engaging in fall prevention exercises is a proven way to reduce the risk of falls in older adults. These activities improve the body’s strength, balance, and stamina to reduce one’s chances of falling.
Safety should be a top priority for older adults, and it’s recommended that measures are put in place to ensure that the environment is safe and comfortable. For example, emergency-response programs, with accessories worn as a necklace or on the wrist, allows wearers to request help in an emergency like a fall.
Noteworthily, there’s an increased risk of experiencing a fall incident in winter because of weather conditions like ice and snow. Check https://seasonsretirement.com/fall-prevention-in-winter-months/ for helpful tips on fall prevention for seniors in winter.
This article focuses on fall prevention exercises for older adults, highlighting seven activities to prepare the body against this occurrence. However, before starting any new exercise program, it’s best to consult with your healthcare professional for advice.
Fall Prevention Exercises
Exercises are physical activities that contribute significantly to improving an individual’s health. They help to build muscle strength, develop endurance, increase flexibility, and improve balance. It’s also advised to exercise for improved sleeping patterns and agility.
Here are seven fall prevention exercises that help improve mobility and balance and are suitable for older adults.
- Sit-To-Stand Exercise
This exercise helps to strengthen the leg muscles and improve balance. It involves sitting and repeatedly standing without losing your balance.
It’s advised that an older adult places a higher stable surface, like a table or countertop, in front of them while engaging in this activity. This surface provides stability if they lose their balance or get tired. Also, there should be a sturdy chair of standard height behind them for support.
To practice this exercise:
- Sit at the edge of your chair and stand up slowly and repeatedly — about ten times.
- Ensure your chest leans over your feet while rising into a straight standing position.
To make this activity easier, one can hold the sides of the chair for support as they stand. When they feel confident enough to perform this exercise without help, they can fold their arms while practicing it.
You should be conscious of engaging the glutes and thigh muscles by tightening them while lowering into the chair. Also, make sure you aren’t dropping into the chair all at once – instead, try to make a controlled descent onto the chair.
- Heel-to-toe Exercise
This exercise for older adults helps improve flexibility and balance and strengthens the calf and thigh muscles, preventing falls.
It is one of the most straightforward exercises for seniors to do at home. It can be carried out in the kitchen, using the countertop as support. Alternatively, a high-backed chair can be used for balance while performing the exercise.
To perform this activity:
- Stand facing a countertop or chair with your planted feet facing forward at shoulder width.
- Lift off the floor using the balls of your feet and drop back into the starting position with feet planted on the floor.
- Repeat this process for 10-15 reps in two sets for the best results.
- Heel-to-toe Walk
The heel-to-toe walk exercise helps to improve balance and stamina as you walk. Like the heel-to-toe exercise, the activity focuses on strengthening the calf muscles.
To practice this exercise:
- Position the heel of one foot right in front of the toes of the other foot as you walk.
- Ensure your heels and toes touch or almost touch.
- Pick a spot ahead of you and focus on it to stay steady.
- Repeat for 20 steps.
To make the activity easier, one can hold onto a countertop or the wall for stability. When comfortable with this exercise, you can increase the distance between your two feet while walking straight. This practice is an excellent tip on fall prevention for seniors.
- A Corner Stand
A corner stand is a simple and easy exercise for older adults to practice. It helps to improve balance while standing in place.
With your back close to a wall and a sturdy chair in front of you, practice standing for a minute without falling against the wall or into the chair. The wall and the chair represent assistive items to provide stability should you need them.
You can opt to close your eyes and narrow your stance to make this exercise more challenging and better train your sense of balance.
- One leg Balance
As the name suggests, this activity involves standing on one leg, and it is one of the exercises for seniors to do at home. It focuses on improving an individual’s balance. You should stand with one leg lifted for 60 seconds to practice this activity.
One can hold a sturdy object for support. When they get accustomed to the exercise, they can make it more challenging by folding or stretching their arms sideways or shutting their eyes while performing the activity.
- Marching In Place
This exercise involves marching in a spot while lifting the legs as close to the chest as possible. Perform each move deliberately, engaging the muscles and not relying on momentum.
The activity aids flexibility and balance. To practice this exercise, older adults can hold a sturdy high-backed chair for support.
- Side Twist
Side twist improves flexibility, stretching out stiff muscles and relaxing the body, aiding fall prevention for seniors.
To perform this exercise:
- Place 2 stable chairs on either side of you.
- Twist the upper body and the head to the right, and then, to the left.
- Ensure you touch the chairs while turning to both sides.
- Repeat the steps until you feel tired.
Exercising offers many physical, mental, and emotional benefits in addition to improving stamina, balance, flexibility, and strength. This can help older adults stay healthy and mobile while reducing the risk of falls.
We’d like to reiterate that people are highly encouraged to consult their physicians for recommendations on the most suitable exercises.