We shouldn’t see falls as a normal part of ageing, or something that ‘just happens’ as you get older. There are lots of simple things you can do to help you stay steady on your feet.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to maintain independence and ensure we stay steady on our feet and reduce balance problems.
Activities that improve muscle strength in our legs, arms, back, shoulders and chest are particularly important as we get older. They can make it easier to get up out of a chair, and improve our posture, co-ordination and balance which reduces our risk of falling. Using the stairs frequently, rising to a standing position from a chair, walking, gardening, Tai Chi and dancing are great examples.
Balance exercises can be especially helpful if you have joint pain as they can help overcome stiffness.
Talk to your GP if you haven’t been exercising regularly, or if you have a condition that restricts your movements.
Once you know what kind of activities are right for you, start gently and build up gradually, aiming to do a little bit more every day. You may be surprised by how much you can achieve and how much you enjoy it.
You should always begin any exercise with a warm-up to prepare your body and finish with a cool down. If you experience any chest pains or feel faint, stop exercising immediately and contact your GP.
Remember that the day after you have exercised your muscles will feel a bit stiff. This is normal and shows that you are benefiting from the exercise.
If you live in a care home and need help to move about, you could ask your activities co-ordinator to start an activities programme. This should take account any medical conditions and build on what you can already do.
How to reduce your risk of falling
Watch the following video for a summary of key things you can do to reduce your risk of falling: