It’s very true that fall prevention for the elderly is a balancing act. The better a senior’s balance the less prone they will be to falling.
It’s important to take all the steps possible to prevent falling as it can have disastrous results. If a senior breaks a hip, for instance, it’s very hard to recover as seniors tend to heal much slower than the days of their youth.
So what are some steps a senior can take in order to give them the best chance of staying upright?
SWIMMING FOR BALANCE
Swimming is becoming more and more recognized as one of the best exercises for a seniors’ balance. For instance, an article in the Washington Post talked about a study that indicated senior men over 70 who were swimmers had far fewer falls than those who didn’t. Actually, they reduce the risk of falling by about 33%.
When we swim, we are always fighting the force of gravity and this makes the body shift up and down in the water. The sensation is almost like you are on dry land and falling.
There is almost a feeling similar to falling forward as the body finds a better swimming position that involves horizontally balancing their head, hips, and shoulders. In effect, the body is striving to coordinate the movements of the upper and lower body at the same time.
This, in turn, gives the body a better sense of orientation when a person is a vertical or upright position. In other words, their balance has improved and they are less prone to falling.
For seniors new to weight training, it would be a great idea to join a gym. At least join a gym long enough to have knowledgeable instructors develop a training program for you that will help your balance.
Actually, most gyms will have instructors who specialize in working with seniors. If you are not sure, just make some phone calls and make some inquiries in order to find the right gym for you. If possible, find gyms that over free passes for the first few visits so you can check it out.
Once you learn the proper weight training techniques you can always purchase your own weight training equipment and train the comfort of your own home. Many seniors are not all that comfortable in a gym setting, but if it’s just for a short time it shouldn’t be too difficult.
There are many weight training routines that specifically target improving overall balance. Some examples are core strengthening and leg strengthening exercises.
You don’t really need to purchase a lot of equipment to achieve this in your own home. A senior can have a pretty good workout with some light weights, an exercise ball, resistance bands, and a few Exercise DVDs.
If you have the room, there are many types of exercise machines that are simply amazing as long as you are willing to put in the time.
Some examples are elliptical trainers, rowers, and treadmills. Stationary bikes are also excellent for coordination and balance. If you had a treadmill and stationary bike, you could work on your conditioning on those cold winter days without ever having to leave your home.
A Home Gym would be excellent as it comes complete with a whole range of exercises you can do, but again it all depends on whether you have the room and whether you will make the commitment to exercise on a regular basis.
You can have the best weight training equipment on the planet, but it won’t matter much if you use it as an expensive clothes horse.
There is also the option of using the wall and a chair for exercises like the squat, lifts, push-ups, crunches, and much more. Add in some weights and resistance bands and you have all you need to do workouts that will greatly improve your balance, overall fitness, and even help you lose weight.
Just using a chair as your only equipment can be helpful, especially if you can find a program that emphasizes balance.
Have a look at this page with images of 14 exercises to improve strength and balance.
Many seniors around the world have come to love Tai Chi. It is instrumental in building strength and improving flexibility and balance.
The best part is, it’s very low impact and will not stress your joints. Many people love Tai Chi because it’s something that can be done anywhere.
You can do it at home, in a park, on the beach, or with a group in a gym. There are many options to choose from. If you choose not to get formal instruction, there is always the option of purchasing Tai Chi DVD’s or Tai Chi Books that will help get you started.
There are other benefits from Tai Chi other than balance. It’s also great for the mind. For the most part, the movements are slow and exact and require quite a lot of concentration. So really, you are training your mind as well as your body.
Tai Chi is also considered a strength training exercise. A complete Tai Chi program will work for all the major muscle groups. The emphasis is normally on legs, shoulders, and core.
ALWAYS KEEP MOVING
There are many ways to tell if you are not moving enough. Continually moving for seniors is one of the major keys to quality of life and longevity.
If you are feeling sluggish and lethargic all the time, chances are you need to start moving more. Find an exercise routine or sport you love and do it. I talk about this extensively in my book Seniors on the Move.
Being constantly stressed out is another indication that there is not enough physical fitness in your life. Exercise has long been known as a great way to relieve stress.
Are you having trouble sleeping? There is nothing better than a good workout that will help ensure you will have a much better most nights. If you can exercise for about two and a half hours per week it will be a great help when it comes to improving your sleep.
If you are having trouble concentrating this can also be due to a lack of physical conditioning. As mentioned, this is one of the main benefits of Tai Chi.
There is little doubt that regular fitness and a well-planned diet will work wonders for a senior on many levels. Balance, strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness will all improve.
This, in turn, will help when it comes to the quality of life and longevity.
Be Always sure to go at exercise slowly when you are first starting out. If you are consistent, it won’t take your body long to grow accustomed to your new fitness program.
As with any plans to take up something new in order to become fitter, it’s wise to mention it to your doctor first. Chances are, he will be quite pleased with the fitness path you have chosen.
Would you like to share your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.