What exercise prevents falls?

Updated: Feb 25

Exercise and Falls Prevention

Balance is one of those things that so many of us take for granted as we move throughout our day without added thought or effort to whether we may fall or be limited by our balance. Sadly, at least one-third of Australians living in our community aged 65 years or older worry about their balance, and in fact, 30% experience a significant fall every year, leading to serious injury or even death. An older person is 10 x more likely to be admitted to an aged care facility following a fall that resulted in an injury. A serious fall can lead to permanent disability, restriction of independence, loss of confidence and a fear of falling, which all contribute to a diminished quality of life. As we age, our ability to balance well begins to fade, making us all vulnerable to falls and potential injury.

A question worth asking is, what if there was a way to prevent the falls from happening in the first place?

There are many effective recommendations to help with reducing the risk of falling, such as, minimize rushing around (take your time!), cleaning up clutter that may become trip hazards, ensuring you are wearing correct footwear and adequate lighting in your home. However, research has identified the most effective preparation one can make to reduce falls is to exercise!

How does Exercise help with falls prevention?

The evidence that exercise helps to minimise falls in those with compromised balance is strong, due to the way it can uniquely address several important risk factors. Exercise can help improve muscular strength, balance control, obstacle navigation, walking speed and even psychological factors such as mental ability and mood.

What type of exercise is best for falls prevention?

There are many forms of exercise that will assist with improving balance, and engaging with programs that include working on practical balance-based skills will be beneficial. Just like many things in life, in order for a balance program to be effective, it must be practiced regularly and be ongoing.

Balance based exercises:

Working on both static balance and dynamic balance is recommended in a range of different foot positions and environments are a great way to develop your balance for a variety of scenarios you may encounter in day-to-day life. Balance exercises involving controlled body movements, while standing with a narrow base of support, on 1 leg, or even on an unbalanced/unstable surface (such as foam or an air bubble disc) with as little assistance or support from the arms as possible can help build improved balanced control. Exercise should be challenging and build strength, but always remain safe while doing so.

Resistance based exercises:

Resistance based exercise is not only essential in keeping our muscles healthy, it also plays a vital role in helping us to complete day to day activities, such as getting up and out of a chair or stepping over objects on the ground. Keeping our muscles adequately strong plays an important part in maintaining balance, and as such, adding in resistance-based exercises to your routine will help to improve balance and prevent falls. Resistance exercises can be done using your own body weight, light hand weights or resistance bands, or a wide variety of machines found in a gym setting.

Other forms of exercise:

Tai Chi or Hydrotherapy can be effective forms of exercise to assist in developing skills and strength to help with fall prevention, especially for the older community and can be accessed in the community. Furthermore, research has shown that exercising in a group helps create motivation to continue long lasting commitment, and it’s also a lot of fun!

How much exercise should I do?

Every individual is different, but a combination of various types of activities will help produce the best results. Aim to complete a little bit each day, with even 10 minutes at a time proving to be effective. Breaking up your exercise bouts throughout the day can also help to manage your ability. Try to slowly build your volume, with a goal of reaching a total of 2 hours accumulative balanced based exercise for each week. A little bit can go a long way, and remember, something is always better than nothing!

Some things to remember:

  • There is strong evidence which supports exercise as a single intervention to prevent falls in community settings.

  • Professional supervision may be required for some challenging exercises.

  • The focus of exercises should be on balance related tasks.


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Post Created By David - Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

Prescribe Exercise are your local exercise physiology specialists. We provide exercise rehabilitation to assist manage and prevent injury and chronic disease in the Wollongong and Illawarra area. Our programs will assist to achieve personal excellence, we do this by taking the time to educate and empower you with the highest quality care and exercise best practice available. We genuinely care for our clients and want to make a difference in your life, we will help you to get better and stay better so that you can regain control of your health once again.

Want to book in for Exercise Physiology Wollongong, head on over to our online bookings CLICK HERE

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