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How to reduce risk of falling in seniors

Every year, 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 experience a fall. For seniors, even minor falls may have long lasting consequences on their quality of life, with injuries tending to be more serious due to lower bone density and slower rate of recovery.

Regular strength training exercise can reduce the risk of falls by:

1. Improving Spatial Awareness: help you regain your balance just as you are about to fall
2. Increasing Bone Density: limit the damage to your bones during a fall
3. Increasing Muscle Mass: strength to go about daily activities without straining or over-reaching
4. Promoting Healing and Recovery Rates if you do fall and injure yourself

Misconceptions of Exercise and the Elderly

#1: “I am too old or too weak to start exercising”

Many have the impression that exercising has to be an intense, all-out effort, this is simply not true. If you have not exercised for a long time, you can still begin at any age. Start with gentle exercises that just slightly elevates the heart rate, with enough resistance for it to be a new challenge.

#2: “Avoiding activity is the best way to prevent a fall”Very often, it is due to this fear of falling that can cause the senior to avoid activity and lose confidence in their physical ability. Exercising in a controlled and safe environment, and starting with a comfortable intensity is the best way to build confidence and be resistant to falls.

#3: “I cannot exercise as I have too many aches and pains”

Physical activity may actually help you manage your pain. Sometimes, the aches can be a result of a body part over-compensating for weakness in another part of the body. Start gradually at a manageable intensity, or go to a qualified professional for guidance.

Simple Strength-Building Exercises for Seniors

Sit-Stand
This simple action helps develop the major muscles at the butt and front of legs and allows us the freedom of being able to get in and out of a chair without support or assistance.

Instructions:

1) Stand in front of the chair
2) Sit on the chair
3) Stand up
4) Repeat for 12 times
Single Leg Hip Extension

This exercise primarily works on the butt muscles which helps in stabilising your posture and maintaining balance.

Instructions:

1) Stand to the side of the chair
2) Bring one leg back while keeping the knees straight
3) Slowly return back to starting position
4) Repeat for 6 times on each leg
Toe Lifts

This helps to improve your ankle strength and reduce chance of a sprain when you encounter uneven floors.

Instructions:

1) Stand behind a chair and use it as a support
2) Slowly lift your heels
3) Slowly return back to starting position
4) Repeat for 12 times
Jug Deadlift

This is another important exercise to help strengthen major muscles of the butt and back of the leg. It also helps reduce your risk of injury by simulating the correct way to pick up items from the floor.

Instructions:

1) With jugs in both hands, bend down by:
  • pushing your hips back,
  • bending the knees, and
  • keeping your back straight
2) Go down as far as you can or when the jugs touch the floor
3) Stand back up
4) Repeat for 12 times
Instructional Video: To see these exercises, and more in motion, head over to YouTube and watch it in English or Chinese.
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