Australia’s ageing baby boomers need to limber up to ensure they keep their balance and don’t become victims of nasty falls.
Researchers at the University of Sydney recommend you should balance on one leg to brush your teeth, bend your knees to pack the dishwasher and take the stairs more often.
These exercises are all part of the new Lifestyle-Integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) program being launched this week.
This non-traditional approach to exercise has been shown to reduce falls by more than 30% by incorporating balance and strength training into everyday activities and daily routines.
Professor Lindy Clemson from the Faculty of Health Sciences says bad balance and weak ankles and hips are the most common causes of falls in older people.
“It’s well known that improving balance and strength can prevent falls in older adults, but less than 10 percent of us regularly engage in any kind of strength training and balance is even less understood,” Professor Clemson said.
“What makes our program different is that we encourage people to get creative and do balance and lower limb strength activities whenever the opportunity arises throughout their day, such as sideways walking when hanging out the washing.”
They recruited 317 men and women over the age of 70, living at home, who suffered two or more falls in the past year. The researchers found a 31% reduction in the rate of falls for participants in the LiFE program.
They also showed improvements in static and dynamic balance, ankle strength, and in function and participation in daily life, suggesting that the program improves both fall risk and frailty.
The facts on falls in Australia:
- One in three people over the age of 65 suffer a fall each year
- If you have had a fall you are more likely to have another
- Each year over 80,000 older people are hospitalised as a result of a fall
- Many falls can be prevented