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How Does Physical Activity Help Prevent Falls in Senior Adults?

The ability to perform daily activities and maintain independence requires strong muscles, balance and endurance. Regular physical activity or exercise helps to improve and prevent the decline of muscle strength, balance and endurance, all risk factors for falling. Balance plays an important role in everyday activities such as walking, getting up out of a chair or leaning over to pick up a grandchild. Balance problems can reduce your independence by interfering with activities of daily living. The good news is that participating in regular physical activity can significantly improve balance and reduce your risk for falling!


How Often Should Senior Adults Engage in Physical Activity?

The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health recommends people of all ages should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days of the week. The 30 minutes can be consecutive or broken into several sessions throughout the day that add up to 30 minutes. Additionally, it is recommended that seniors participate in strength training activities 2 days per week.

Which Types of Exercise do Senior Adults Commonly Participate In?

Tai Chi is an excellent means of balance and coordination training. Tai Chi can decrease blood pressure, lessen the velocity of sway, increase stability and balance, reduce the fear of falling, and increase confidence in balance and movement.

Walking improves balance, ankle strength, walking speed, falls efficacy and decreases falls and the fear of falling.

Water aerobics is good exercise for people with arthritis or other joint conditions because it is gentle on joints and provides the same benefits of exercise that other “land exercises” provide.

Strength training improves muscular endurance and strength, range of motion and flexibility. Strength training can be done using free weights, nautilus equipment or resistance bands.


Exercise Safely!

  • Start with small amounts of physical activity and gradually increase the amount of activity.

  • Exercise at your own pace.

  • Listen to your body and know your limits.

  • Remember that it takes time to build and regain strength.

  • It’s okay to change or stop an exercise.

  • Exercise should not be painful. If you experience pain, stop what you are doing immediately and consult your doctor.

  • When in doubt, talk to your doctor so you can continue to exercise safely.

Web Information References

To access references for information found on this website, please visit the References page.

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