Health & Fitness – Fall Prevention

I know that I write about fall prevention a lot, but falling is a serious issue as we age. More than 1 out of 3 older adults fall each year. These falls can be very serious for our long-term health, our health care costs, and our dependency on friends and family.

Many different factors can cause falls:

  • Medications: Read about side effects for the medications. Talk to your physician about all your medications including over-the-counter medications.
  • Medical conditions: Joint problems (knees, joints, ankles, etc) can contribute to the risk of falling. Uncontrolled blood pressure and blood sugar can cause dizziness. Ear and sinus infections may increase dizziness.
  • Sedentary lifestyles: After the age of 30, we begin losing muscle mass; therefore, to counteract the aging process, we must remain active throughout our lives. Without muscle strength, we cannot stand and walk safely.
  • Environment: At all ages, we need to be observant of fall hazards, such as wet floors, cords, rugs, uneven surfaces, children and pet toys, and so much more. Some of these hazards can be removed, but some we need to watch for every day.
  • Shoes: I recommend shoes with a nonslip sole that can be tightened with laces or Velcro as they stretch out. Slip-on shoes, especially flip flops are not a safe choice.

To prevent falls, we need good balance and the ability to recover; both of those require muscle strength. Balance is the process of controlling our body’s center of mass (center of gravity) with respect to its base of support, whether our body is stationary or moving. Recovery is our ability to right ourselves after losing balance, before it becomes a fall. Exercise can reduce the risk of falls. Below are some basic exercises that can help keep us safe and healthy.

To prevent falls:

  • Practice balance with stationary poses, such as side leg raises using the chair for support, and toe stands (calf raises) behind the chair.
  • Practice muscle strengthening exercises, such as seated leg extensions, standing hamstring curls behind the chair, stand up/sit downs without using your arms to pull up.
  • Practice righting reactions or training muscles to react and recover from loss of balance. Try standing lunges – front, back, and side.
  • Strengthen abdominal and other core muscles.

For more information regarding fall prevention, talk to a Personal Trainer or join a group fitness activity such as SilverSneakers™, SilverSneakers™ Flex, or water fitness classes. Participate in a Stability class. SilverSneakers™ classes are offered at Athens Limestone Wellness. SilverSneaker™ Flex classes are classes outside a gym and are scheduled below:

M/W/F (Strength & Balance) at Athens Senior Center – Pryor Street at 8:30 -9:15
M/W (Strength & Balance) at East Limestone Senior Center – Nick Davis at 11:30 -12:15
T/Th (Cardio & Strength) at Round Island Baptist Church – Brownsferry Rd at 10 -11
Th (Stability) at East Limestone Senior Center – Nick Davis at 11:30 – 12:15

For more information, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.