What is falls prevention?
As we grow older, we all develop an increased risk of falling. This is because as we age, our muscles lose strength and aren't able to function as well. It is important that we all take necessary steps throughout our life to prevent our risk of falling as we get older.
Why is physical activity important for falls prevention?
Loss of muscle strength in old age affects everyone, whether they have a medical condition or not. But there are lots of ways that you can reduce your risk of having a fall, and one of the best ways to do this is taking part in regular physical activity.
How much physical activity should you be doing?
You should aim to take part in the recommended amount of physical activity for your age group, as outlined in the UK Chief Medical Officer's Physical Activity Guidelines.
For adults aged 19 and over, the recommended amount is at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. Where possible, this should be a combination of cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and balance exercises. These could include:
- Cardiovascular activities - brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing
- Strength activities - resistance training, Yoga, Nordic Walking, carrying heavy shopping, heavy gardening
- Balance/mobility - Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, body balance classes
When it comes to reducing your risk of falls however, muscle strengthening and balance exercises are particularly important and make a significant difference. Examples of muscle strengthening and balance activities include:
- Tai Chi
- Heavy gardening
- Lifting weights
- Resistance band exercises
- Otago strength and balance exercises
Lots of these exercises can be carried out from the comfort of your own home, however many leisure centres and local gyms also offer classes for older people, specifically designed to help improve strength and balance. Speak to your GP, nurse or social prescriber about what is available to you locally.