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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Be on the front foot of falls with better balance

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Injury Matters urges older adults to get moving to help stay independent and prevent falls this month for ‘April Falls’. 

Falls are a leading cause of injury in Australia and can significantly impact a person’s life. The good news is that you can prevent falls and building your balance is one of the best ways to do this. Balance helps us take part in daily activities such as walking, grocery shopping, and driving a car. 

Finding lost balance

“People often tell us that they are too old to start exercising, but research shows us that this is not true. You are never too old or too young to start! Older adults can maintain and even regain leg strength and balance by doing simple exercises in their own home,” says Injury Prevention Manager at Injury Matters, Samantha Menezes.

Older adults should aim to do three hours of strength and balance exercises each week, or 30 minutes on most days, to help build our balance and strengthen our bones and muscles. You can even break these activities up into much shorter blocks of time.

“We suggest people start slowly and adjust exercises to get harder as you get stronger”, said Ms Menezes.

When challenging your balance, it is also vital that you stay safe. Make sure you always have a stable surface close by if you need to hold onto something.

If you have not challenged your balance in a while or do not feel confident doing balance exercises, get in touch with your GP, physiotherapist or other health professional before starting these exercises.

Maintaining your health while self-isolating

We know that it’s an anxious time for many older Australians, but it is essential to take steps to stay healthy while self-isolating. Injury Matters encourages older adults to keep moving and stay active at home.

“Staying active during a time of physical distancing is essential for older adults. While it might be a little different to what you usually do, there are plenty of ways you can stay active while in the safety of your own home,” says Ms Menezes.

Exercises that improve leg strength and balance include knee extensions, mini squats, sit to stand exercises, weight-bearing activities, side steps, and Tai Chi. 

“It is important to keep your daily schedule as normal and healthy as possible in this unique time,” said Ms Menezes.

Stay On Your Feet® is Western Australia’s leading falls prevention program for older adults living in the WA community. The program aims to reduce falls and falls-related injuries while encouraging confidence in independent living.

The Stay On Your Feet® program has a range of useful resources to help you learn about simple ways in which you can build your balance. View our Build Your Balance exercise video and online flyer, complete our online Move Your Body learning module, and take our Move Your Body quiz for more information. (Please note: Print resources are only available in Western Australia.)

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