Over 60? This Exercise Can Help Reduce Your Risk of Falling
As you get older, you may find yourself confronted with health concerns you hadn't previously considered. Among the more common of these worries is a fear of falling—and with good reason. According to the World Health Association (WHO), falls are the second most common cause of death from unintentional injury across the globe; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 32,000 U.S. residents die from a fall each year.
However, just because you're getting older doesn't have to mean that falling is a foregone conclusion. Experts say that the right workout can help you reduce your risk of falling and live a longer healthier life.
"The best exercises to prevent falls are strength training: developing muscles, especially in the legs, to help improve balance and coordination as well as increasing the amount of muscle," says certified personal trainer Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, chief fitness officer at All About Fitness, LLC and executive producer and host of the "All About Fitness" podcast.
In particular, McCall recommends performing single-leg balance toe touches on a regular basis.
"Balance on your left leg, sink into your left hip, and press your left foot into the ground to activate core muscles," says McCall. "With your right leg, reach in all clock directions on the right side of the body: 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (5 and 6 can be done by reaching with the right leg behind the body); then switch legs."
"The goal is to reach with the right leg as far as possible for each position while balancing on the left leg; this will help strengthen the hips to improve stability," McCall adds.
In fact, according to a 2013 study published in The BMJ, across a group of 17 studies, fall prevention exercises with a focus on balance training helped reduce fall-related injuries by 37%. Falls that caused serious injury were reduced by 43% as a result of implementing these exercises, and broken bones were reduced by 61%.
McCall adds that adding reverse lunges and box jumps into your regular routine are great ways to improve your balance, stability, and strength, too.
However, simply moving more may be enough to help lower your fall risk. A 2020 review published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, which reviewed 116 studies with a total of 25,150 participants, exercise as a whole reduced fall risk by 23% while implementing three or more hours of balance and functional exercise into participants' routines reduced fall risk by 42%.
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