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Four Easy Exercises For Older Adults At Risk Of Falling

Despite ongoing awareness of how important exercise is in our lives, especially as we grow older, many of our older persons are not doing it. 

As it stands the current statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness report that 75% of older adults aged 65 and over don’t meet the Physical Activity Guidelines…

Interestingly, the most common reasons people report they do not meet the guidelines are not what you would expect. They are not because people are simply lacking motivation or time to do it but rather most report they do not exercise because illness or injury scares them out of starting. 

Which we can empathise with. 

This is before you even consider how much exercise the older person is expected to do. The current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of exercise every week, plus 2 resistance training sessions. As a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with 8 years of experience who has had a hand in helping literally thousands start exercise for the first time or resume it after a long time I can tell you right now that if you go from doing nothing to trying to meet these guidelines you are going to end up right back where you started. But of course, they don't tell you that. 

So, what should we do and what should we prioritise when it comes to exercise with our older persons? 

It's not going to be going for walks or exercises with that stretchy band they got years ago (that is moments away from snapping) that they might be doing, that they keep doing despite not really seeing any change in their physical function. 

Rather it will be things to prevent falls and the injuries that may occur as a result of frailty when having a fall. This is because: 

Falls are Australia’s leading cause of injury hospitalisation and death, representing 43% of injury hospitalisations and 42% of injury deaths.

The things we need to work on with our older persons involve improving their balance and their overall strength and despite popular belief, these things are not as hard as what people think when they hear the word “strength” or “resistance”. 

If you care for older persons we have compiled four exercise most would be able to start right away with no equipment at all and these are: 

four easy exercises for older adults at risk of falling

Sit to stand

  1. Begin seated on a stable chair, with your feet hip width apart

  2. Cross your arms across your chest or hold on to the arms of the chair for support if needed

  3. Push your feet through the ground and stand up

  4. Lower yourself back into the chair safely

  5. Repeat no more than 8-10 stands to begin with and then have a rest!

Semi tandem balance

  1. Stand beside a wall or railing that you can use to support yourself

  2. Place your feet in a semi-tandem position with your heel inline with your toes and your feet slightly apart

  3. Try and use as little support as possible and balance for approximately 30 seconds

  4. Switch the position of your feet and practice on the other side

Incline or Bench push up 

  1. Stand a comfortable distance away from a sturdy bench or surface with your feet hip width apart

  2. Begin with your arms straight in front of your against the wall

  3. Use your arms to slowly lower your chest to the bench and then push your body back to the starting position

  4. Repeat up to 10 times, ensure you stop 2 repetitions before you feel you couldn't do another one! 

Calf raises

  1. Stand beside a wall or railing to secure yourself

  2. Begin with your feet hip width apart

  3. Push the weight of your body up on to your toes lifting the heels from the ground

  4. Lower your heels back down to the ground and repeat up to 15 times, ensuring you stop 2 repetitions before you feel you couldn't do another one! 

Most should be able to start with these if they feel safe and confident to do so. If they are being held back by illness or injury and do not feel safe or confident, then we can help. 

As Clinical Exercise Physiologists we help people who have never exercised before, haven't exercised in a long time or have tried exercise and didnt like it use exercise in safe and effective doses as medicine to help them live a longer, stronger, healthier and happier life. If you have someone in mind who could use some expert advice, why don't you give us a call to see how we would help on 1300 034 248? 

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