As we age, we are more susceptible to falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hard falls are the leading cause of injury and death for Americans aged 65 and above, usually stemming from poor strength and balance in older adults.
You and your loved ones need to engage in balance and strength exercises regularly to prevent accidents regardless of how minor they are. Doing regular exercises that strengthen the muscles is vital in keeping yourself safe and healthy!
Common Risks Leading to Falls
Older adults and seniors are usually more prone to falls due to the following possibilities:
- Issues with walking or keeping balance: Should there be issues with footwear, or your loved ones are having a hard time walking due to a chronic leg injury, they are at higher risks of losing their balance easily which may result in a hard fall.
- Environmentally oblivious: The older adults’ vision may be impacted as they age, resulting in unawareness of their surroundings. They may also fall victim to home hazards such as having wires or cables lying around resulting in trip hazards, having dim lighting in the house which impairs vision, or missing a step when going down the stairs.
- Effects of medication: Studies have purported that taking five or more medications at once is likely to lead to a higher risk of falls due to the medicines’ side effects. A lack of rest which adds to the drowsiness may pose risks to your loved ones.
Balance and Strength Exercises to Prevent Falls
Here are some balance and strength exercises you can do to lower the risks of falling:
- Heel raises: Stand tall and straight. Place a chair in front of you should you need extra support to hold onto. Similar to a tiptoe position, slowly lift your heels about 5cm high, hold them there for three seconds, before returning the heels to the floor. Repeat the exercise for 20 repetitions at your own pace.
- March on the spot: In a standing position, lift your right knee until it reaches an angle of 90 degrees while your weight shifts to your left leg. Your right thigh should be parallel to the floor. Pause and hold for three seconds before switching positions. Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions on each leg.
- Leg lifts to the back: In a standing position, engage your core for this exercise and shift your weight to the left leg. Keeping your right leg straight, lift it to the back while tilting your body forward so that you can balance on your left leg. Keep your head upright and do not bend such that your head goes downwards. This will train your thighs, strengthen the muscles, and enhance your balance. Repeat on each leg for 10 repetitions.
- Stand and sit: Stay seated with your back straight on a sturdy chair or couch, with your legs touching the ground comfortably. Lean your chest forward and shift your weight to the front as you squeeze your glutes and rise to a standing position. If your thighs start to feel weak, place a cushion in front of you as safety measures. Start slow and repeat for 20 repetitions.
It is important to keep in mind the level of intensity that your body can take for these balance and strength exercises. Increase the repetitions if you feel like you’re up for a challenge, but do not over-exert yourself. Always seek advice from your doctor and exercise safely so you can age well in your senior years!