Balance Exercises and Fall PreventionBy Jill Poser July 06, 2012 | 10:00 AMPosted in: Senior Safety, Family
I pride myself on a very thorough
safety evaluation whenever I work with any family on home safety and fall
prevention. We look at every detail in
every room of the house, from lighting to flooring, seating, bed height, shower
curbs, step stools. The list goes on.
Yet, no matter how much I plan, orchestrate, implement against a fall, I cannot
guarantee against falling. I think it
hit home most when I was with my mom on Saturday. We were discussing plans for the day when my
dad walked in to join us. Suddenly, he
turned around and his sneaker did not glide with his movement. He briefly lost his balance, but luckily, was
able to right himself. There was nothing for him to grab, he was in the middle
of the room. It merely takes a second to
turn the wrong way, hear the phone ring and reach too quickly, drop our car
keys, bend down and lose our balance, or so many other unpredictable
possibilities. So I thought to myself,
“What else does home safety and fall prevention encompass?” And I thought: balance. Where does that fit into safety?
A recent report published in the Journal of the
American Geriatrics Society summarized a study done by researchers from
Australia who examined the link between specific forms of exercise and fall
risks. Surprisingly, exercise programs that focused on brisk walking had no
effect on reducing the total number of falls. If anything, risk of falling
increased modestly as a result of the tripping or loss of balance that might
occur by walking outside or on a treadmill. They found that balancing exercises were highly effective in reducing
the number of falls and should be integrated into a weekly exercise routine. In
general, the report states that balance exercises can be quite simple and be
performed daily by everyone older than 60 and individuals who have any
conditions like muscle weakness or walking difficulties. If you have serious balance problems, you should wear a medical alert device and work
under the supervision of a professional who can offer a steadying hand.
For all of you Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
types, dancing is also considered a wonderful form of exercise. It improves
fine motor control and balance, all the while increasing the heart rate.
Martial arts enthusiasts may already know that tai chi is yet another excellent
recommendation that improves balance. Many studies have shown that tai chi
helps to improve balance and prevent falls in older adults.
While balance is a key component to any
exercise plan, we must remember that we all require a comprehensive workout
regimen for overall good health that includes some form of aerobics, strength
and weight training.Experts state that
no matter our age, exercise is critically important to our health and as we get
older, critical to the core of our sustained wellbeing.
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