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Falls

4 Exercises to Reduce Your Risk of Falls

Decreased balance and falls are a dangerous part of getting older, but there are things you can do now in order to set yourself up for a better chance of avoiding costly, or even deadly, falls later on.

The numbers are startling and frightening: the National Council on Aging (NCOA), citing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), notes that falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries for older Americans. One in four Americans age 65 and over fall each year. In the U.S., an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, and an older adult dies from a fall every 19 minutes. The average cost to treat a fall is $30,000, according to the National Council for Aging Care.

Here are four exercises you can do to increase your balance. Of course, always consult your physician and get his or her approval before attempting any of these exercises.

older-woman-doing-arm-stretch

Sit-to-Stand

  1. Sit in a firm, standard chair that has armrests.
  2. Shift forward until your buttocks are near the front of the seat and place your feet firmly on the ground. Your toes should be directly under your knees.
  3. Shift your body weight forward slightly towards your toes as you stand up. Try not to use your hands.
  4. To sit back down, stand with the back of your legs one inch from the edge of the chair. Bend your knees and lean your torso forward slightly as you reach your buttocks toward the back of the chair. Your knees should be above your toes.
  5. Lower yourself slowly into the seat without using your hands.
  6. If you must use your hands, grab the armrest and lower yourself back down slowly to the seat using your legs.

Start with one set of 10 repetitions each day. The goal is three sets a day.

Single-Leg Stance

  1. Simply stand on your right foot without letting it touch your left leg.
  2. Look forward and balance.
  3. Repeat while standing on your left foot.

Repetitions: Start standing for five seconds on each side, a total of 10 times each. The goal is to stand for 10 seconds on each side.

With time and practice, you’ll be able to improve your balance.

Forward Lunges

Forward lunges have more advanced movement than other exercises, so anyone with knee issues should be careful not to overexert themselves.

Stand up and take a large step forward with your right leg.

  1. Bend your right knee as you bring most of your weight forward onto your right leg.
  2. Keep your torso upright and do not let your right knee bend past your right toes.
  3. Your left knee should be slightly bent.
  4. Push into standing again while also contracting your right buttock and thigh muscles.
  5. Do not shift your weight backward onto the left leg. Make sure to control the motion in both directions.
  6. Hold and repeat.
  7. Repeat this exercise lunging forward with the left leg.

Repetitions: Start with five lunges on each side once a day. If it doesn’t make you sore, add an additional lunge until you are doing 10 lunges on each side, one time a day.

Vision Tracking

Vision is the number one sensory system the brain uses for balance. Of all senses, vision is the most negatively impacted by age and time. For this reason, exercising while training your eyes is vital.

Bend your right elbow so that your thumb rests a few inches from your face.

  1. Slowly move your thumb to the right and then to the left as far as you can without it being uncomfortable. Follow only your thumb with your eyes and do not move your head.
  2. After that, move your thumb up and then down. Follow with your eyes only the entire time and do not move your head.
  3. When complete, hold your thumb out at arm’s length and repeat the exercise. You can switch to using your left thumb, if desired.

Repetitions: Three sets for 20 seconds each.

Falls can be both dangerous and scary, but these exercises can help prevent them. With time and practice, you’ll be able to improve your balance and set yourself up for success as you get older.

 

 

 

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