One of the biggest concerns for seniors is falling and breaking a bone. In fact, almost 60% of older adults are continuously afraid of falling.
This isn’t much of a surprise, given that one-third of those over the age of 65 fall every year.
But the good news is that falls are preventable and you can minimize your risk.
There are numerous fall prevention exercises that benefit your balance, strength, and coordination, which help you reduce the risk of falling.
In this blog post, we’ll quickly cover who’s most at risk of falls and then move on to nine of the best fall prevention exercises for seniors.
If you’re over the age of 65, there is a higher risk of falling (and injuring yourself) as a result of a variety of elements.
The most important ones are:
- Muscle weakness
- Poor balance
- Reduced vision or visual impairment
- Decreased bone density, which may lead to fragile bones and increased risk of fractures
- Specific diseases like Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke and hip fracture that can contribute to fall risks
- Environmental hazards, such as a cluttered home or dimmed areas
- Medication side effects such as dizziness
The best way to prevent fall-related injuries is by doing exercises that improve your balance and coordination, while also building up muscle strength.
But before you begin, test your fitness levels to determine whether you need to do beginner or advanced versions.
And, as always, remember to warm up and stretch before and after engaging in any physical activity.
Without further ado, here are some examples (with video demonstrations) of fall prevention exercises for seniors.
9 Best Fall Prevention Exercises for Seniors
A standing balance exercise is a movement that is done while you are standing. As the name suggests, they help to improve your balance and prevent you from falling.
Some common balance exercises to prevent falls are:
- #1 Single-leg stand — stand on one leg with your hands on your hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch legs. Repeat this exercise three times on each leg. Watch a video demonstration here.
- #2 Walking heel-to-toe — place your heel just in front of your toes and walk forward. As you walk, make sure that your heel touches the ground before your toes touch the ground. Walk 20 steps forwards and then turn around and walk back to where you started. Watch a video demonstration here.
- #3 Marching in place — Bring your knees up toward your chest while standing with your back straight. Make sure that you keep your knees slightly bent and swing your arms as you march. You can also do this exercise while holding a chair for support if needed. Watch a video demonstration here.
Balance exercises don’t have to be difficult. Just take it easy and listen to your body.
Strength training is not just for building muscle mass or feeling better about your appearance – it’s also for preserving your independence and quality of life. Strength exercises can help prevent falls, improve balance, and increase overall energy levels.
The most effective strength exercises to prevent falls are those that target the muscles in your legs, hips, and trunk. These are the areas of your body that are most likely to give out on you if you lose your balance.
Here are a few fall prevention exercises for seniors that you can do at home:
- #4 Squats — stand with feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out in front of you for balance. Slowly lower your body down as if you’re going to sit in a chair, keeping your knees behind your toes. Return to the starting position and repeat. Watch a video demonstration here.
- #5 Heel raises — stand with your feet hip-width apart, weight evenly distributed on both feet. Raise your heels so you are standing on your toes. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your heels back to the floor. Pause and repeat. Aim for 10 repetitions. Watch a video demonstration here.
- #6 Supermans — lie with your stomach on the floor. Straighten your body, put your arms in front of you and then extend one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for a couple of seconds and then switch sides. Watch a video demonstration here.
If you’re looking for a simple way to stay physically healthy and safe, start incorporating strength exercises into your routine today. All it takes is a short daily routine and a bit of consistency.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive program, give yoga, tai chi, or pilates a try. They all involve a lot of balance-challenging poses, which help improve your stability, strength, and coordination.
- #7 Yoga — it’s a well-accepted fall prevention strategy. Check out this article for more tips on yoga
- #8 Tai chi — this simple yet effective recreational activity reduces your chances of falling by 31% (check out some other amazing benefits of tai chi)
- #9 Pilates — not only does it reduce fall risks, but it also significantly improves your balance, functional mobility, balance self-efficacy, and lower extremity range of motion
For those interested in something more structured, check out this list of evidence-based falls prevention programs.
These fall prevention programs have been proven through research to be effective in reducing the risk of falls in older adults. Such programs typically include a combination of exercises to improve balance and strength, as well as education on how to reduce fall risk factors.
Stay Safe Proactively
The exercises we’ve highlighted today are a great place to start, and there are many more that can help improve your balance, coordination, and strength.
Be proactive about your health and safety by talking with your doctor or physical therapist about fall prevention, then starting a routine of these exercises.
We know that it can sometimes be difficult to get started on an exercise routine, but hopefully these ideas give you some inspiration. Remember, whether you’re doing cardio, balance, or strength exercises, the most important thing is to start small and gradually increase your activity level over time
Stay safe, independent, and fall-free with these fall prevention exercises.