Yesterday I was reading a study on preventing falls in older adults. In my book, older adults includes anyone over the age of 55. As I have written previous, one of the best ways to prevent falls is to practice special balance and strength exercises every day. The study confirmed what I have known about strength, balance and falls prevention.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a third of Americans over 65 fall each year, resulting in nearly 20,000 deaths and more than two million emergency room visits costing in excess of 28 billion dollars.
In a large part, these falls are preventable with the correct intervention. The authors of the study, Lesley Gillespie and Clare Robertson, made the following point. "The strongest evidence is for exercise that contains multiple components such as strength and balance training, whether carried out in groups or prescribed for people in their homes."
These researchers are spot on. In my 30 years of working with 55-and-older clients, I have stressed this very same theme. I regularly make four recommendations to all of my older clients.
No.1 - Switch to standing exercises and stop performing seated ones. This small change can improve exercise safety and yield big gains in strength and balance. Only use seated exercises if you are unable to stand.
No. 2 - Practice your balance twice a day for at least 5 minutes. More frequent balance sessions can help improve your stability faster.
No. 3 - Include exercises that challenge your strength and balance rather than just strength alone. These exercises more resemble real world activities and are better for you.
#4 Stand more and sit less. Sitting decreases your ability to balance and weakens your leg muscles. Stand when you can instead of sitting is my motto.
Good luck, and I will think of you practicing your balance each and every day.