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Role of Exercise in Reducing Falls among Seniors

ExerciseThe number of older people in the population is growing. A Stanford Longevity Center study projected that the percentage of Americans age 65 and older would increase from 13% in 2010 to 20% in 2030.

The elderly often develop problems with balance, strength, vision and other issues that put them at the risk of being seriously injured. Poor balance, a persistent problem for millions of Americans, can trigger falls. Falls can lead to long-term injuries such as hip fractures and even traumatic brain injuries that can limit mobility and independence.

Exercise is a great way to protect your bones. The increased stress placed on bones during physical activity stimulates the growth of new bone tissue. It helps to improve balance and strengthen muscles, thereby preventing falls. However, the type of workouts you do matter a lot. Here is a list of different types of workouts that experts recommend to reduce falls among seniors:

  • Strengthening exercises – These help to build muscles and increase metabolism, which helps in better weight management. They may include weight lifting and resistance training, sit ups, crunches, leg raises, stair climbing and hyper-extensions.
  • Endurance exercises – Endurance or aerobic workouts help improve overall fitness. They can increase cardiovascular strength, maintain body weight and improve stamina. Examples include walking, jogging, swimming, running, bicycling and biking.
  • Stretching exercises – Stretching or flexibility workouts improve freedom of movement, enabling seniors to perform their routine physical activities. These can improve flexibility but will not improve endurance and strength. Examples include neck stretch, lower back stretch, shoulder and upper arm raise, and active elbow extensor stretch.
  • Range of motion exercises – These alleviate stiffness and enhance joint mobility. Raising the arms over the head or moving the shoulders forward or backward move the joints through their full range of motion. These ‘gentle’ exercises can be done at any time (even when your joints are painful or swollen).

Reports suggest that about one in three adults aged 65 years and older falls in the US each year. In most cases, your bone strength and size peaks by the age of 30. Bones tend to become less dense making them more delicate and subject to breaks. An active lifestyle combined with regular physical activity can increase maximum bone density, helping older adults stay strong and fit enough to perform their daily activities and maintain their independence.

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