Keeping physically active has many benefits. For older people in particular, it has been shown to reduce the rate of falls, reduce the risk of fractures (broken bones), increase confidence and increase overall quality of life.
Aim to do some form of daily physical activity for example Gardening, Walking or specific exercises, building up gradually to 2.5hrs of moderate intensity activity every week.
To prevent falls, exercises and activities must challenge your balance, therefore need to take place in standing, with strengthening exercises to support this. The aim should therefore be, within your daily activity Strength and Balance related exercises 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes.
If you are already reasonably active, you still need to ensure your strength, balance and bone health is at its best. Otago exercises such as Northamptonshire sports Get up and GO classes, Tai Chi, and dancing, etc. are all great activities to help with balance, fitness and wellbeing. Aim to choose something you enjoy, this will help you stick to it in the long term.
Joining an exercise class has the added benefit of increasing your social contact and can help to motivate you to continue.
If you are less active, or not active at all, remember that something is better than nothing, even if it is just breaking up long periods of sitting with regular walks around the house or doing some exercises in your chair. Please note that chair based exercises, while beneficial for many other things, DO NOT prevent falls.
It may be beneficial to attend an exercise class specifically designed for older people, which can be provided by Northamptonshire sport, or if you are not ready for a class, review the exercises on the Steady on your feet website for some ideas. Alternatively contact the Falls Management service, Physiotherapy or other qualified exercises instructors on ideas how to start some falls prevention exercises.
- Ensure that you have something to hold onto that is sturdy and stable (a kitchen worktop is ideal).
- Wear supportive footwear
- Have a glass of water to hand
- Begin with activities that you can do comfortably. Start slowly and build up gradually
- Speak to your GP or appropriate health professional, if you have a heart condition, or other medical condition that makes exercising difficult
- If you experience chest pain, dizziness or severe shortness of breath, stop immediately and contact your GP (or call an ambulance if you feel very unwell and your symptoms do not go away when you stop exercising)
- If you experience joint or muscle pain, stop, check your technique and position and start again. If you continue to experience pain, you may need some further guidance from a physiotherapist or appropriately qualified exercise instructor
- Remember that feeling your muscles working or slight muscle soreness the next day after exercise is normal and shows that the exercises are working
- Check your posture regularly and ensure that you are standing upright throught
- Do not hold your breath while you exercise
- Have a glass of water and a rest, you’ve earned it!
- Fill in your exercise diary and make a note of any issues or achievements. This will help you to monitor your progress and make sure you are exercising frequently
- Plan your next exercise session – aim to complete these strength and balance 3 times a week. If you plan it, you are more likely to do it.
Useful links for keeping active:
Download the diary