Each year, more than 25% of adults aged 65 and older suffer a fall which results in 3 million emergency room visits every single year, according to the CDC. When seniors fall, the consequences are incredibly serious. From sprains and fractures to internal injuries, the consequences of a fall can be quite serious, but there are ways to prevent those falls! What can preventative senior fitness wellness programs do to help with injury prevention? Quite a bit. Take a look at the 7 injury prevention exercises you should consider.
If you have not been physically active before, then the best recommendation is to start with walking, which is a great form of exercise. Walk at least 45-60 minutes every day, and this will slowly build your exercise endurance. If you are unsteady on your feet or have balance problems, use a walker. If possible, walk with someone else so that you can support each other. You need to walk at least 4-5 times a week. Walking allows you to enjoy nature; it is relatively complication-free, eases stress, and nurtures the mind. If you’re not quite ready to head outside, walk in place or just around your house regularly.
2. Sit to Stand:
One of the easiest exercises to regain balance and strength is to use a kitchen chair. Sit up as straight as possible, then get up quickly. Repeat the exercise five to ten times and perform it at least 2-3 times daily. You may use a chair with arms to help you get up in the beginning. The key is to use a sturdy and stable chair, and for extra safety, keep another chair in front of you in case you lose your balance.
3. High Knees:
Another simple exercise to increase stability and balance is to stand next to the chair or table and bring each knee as high as you can to your chest. Alternate with each leg and repeat the motions 5-10 times. Do this exercise 2-3 times a day.
4. Leg Raises:
Another exercise is to stand next to a chair or a table and then raise the leg up in the air. Alternate with each leg and repeat the activity 5-10 times; perform this exercise 2-3 times a day.
Begin this one standing next to a sturdy chair. Raise your body on your toes for a few seconds, and then relax. Repeat this exercise 10 times and perform it several times a day.
6. Single-Leg Balance:
Stand in between two stable chairs of the same height and hold on to the top of the chairs for support. Then raise one leg as high as you can. Repeat this exercise 10 times with each leg.
7. Heel Toes:
Stand in between two stable chairs and then place the heel of one foot ahead of the other foot’s toes. You may have to hold on to the chairs during this exercise. Alternate with each foot, and with time, your gait and balance will become stable.
A Word of Caution
Before you begin any exercise program, there are several things you’ll want to do. First, book a visit to your doctor to make certain the physical activity you’re considering is safe for you. If you have diabetes or have peripheral vascular disease, remember that existing nerve damage may increase the risk of exercise because you do not experience sensation the way others do, so take special precautions.
If you’re just getting started, consider joining a wellness facility designed for seniors. These programs tend to be geared specifically toward those who haven’t exercised in a while, and many of them work toward preventing other injuries. They often provide additional monitoring, too. Add that to the fact that friends surround you, and you have a winning equation.
As you search for the right wellness program to help, look for one that incorporates strength training with cardiovascular exercise. As you age, you begin to lose muscle mass, which creates diminished strength. A program that addresses both can help you feel great and take on simple tasks like lifting bags of groceries from your car to the house!
Remember, too, that most people begin to lose both muscle mass and strength as they age. You’ll want to select a program that helps you strength train and get some cardiovascular work in. Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t take a lot of work to get the benefits you want. Just 30 minutes a day will help you achieve those benefits, and you don’t even need any special equipment. Instead, simple equipment you have around the house, like soup cans, can serve as your strength training equipment. Even if you don’t want to attend a program, you can still get those benefits. Just work to stay safe while doing so.
Finally, don’t forget that joining a wellness program or exercising at home is just one step in the right direction. It’s just as important to eat a healthy diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
No matter what exercise you perform, safety should be your priority. Take a break between each exercise and make sure you’re ready to move to the next one. Slowly work your way up to several exercise sessions per day, and you’re going to be far less likely to fall!