If you’re worried about falling and getting injured, talk to your orthopaedic specialist about exercise.
Exercise is the No. 1 thing people over 65 should do to prevent falls, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The draft recommendation applies to adults age 65 and older who live at home and are generally healthy. Additionally, they shouldn’t have osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency, Parkinson’s disease or dementia. Health care providers use the panel’s expert guidelines when treating patients.
An estimated one third of adults 65 and older fall at least once a year. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, including fractures, decreased mobility and independence, and even death. Risk factors for falls include older age, a history of falling, muscle weakness, problems with walking, and problems with balance.
Exercise can help prevent falls among adults who are at increased risk. Exercises that improve balance, stability, and ability to perform common tasks have been most commonly studied.
Interventions could include exercise, nutrition therapy, medication management, and social or community services, among others.
“Falls can cause significant injuries in older adults, so preventing falls is important to maintaining their physical well-being. We found that exercise can help prevent falls,” says Task Force member Alex Krist, M.D., M.P.H.
Many people can prevent falls by increasing their strength, flexibility and balance.
The National Institute on Aging recommends the following exercises for people over 65. Always consult your health provider before starting an exercise program.
- Stand on one foot: In this exercise, stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance while you lift one foot up. Try holding the position for up to 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. Then do the same routine with the other leg. You can repeat 10 to 15 additional times with each leg.
- Heel-to-toe walk: The easiest way to do this exercise is next to a wall. With your arms extended out to each side of your body, step one foot in front of the other, positioning your heel just in front of your other foot’s toes. Heel and toes can touch or barely touch. Walk with your eyes looking straight ahead on a fixed object. Try to stay focused on it to help keep your balance as you walk. Repeat for 20 steps.
- Balance walk: Extend your arms out to each side of your body. Raise them no higher than your shoulders. Find a spot in front of you and keep looking at it as you walk. Walk in a straight line while pausing with each stop to lift your back leg. Then step forward. Alternate legs as you take 20 steps.
+ Learn about The Spine Center of Hampton Roads which helps patients of all ages with back and neck pain. Our specialists use X-ray, MRI, CT, bone scan and other advanced diagnostic tools to evaluate each patient’s individual needs. Physical therapy is available at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy locations throughout Hampton Roads.
Source: USPSTF news release