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Exercises to help prevent falls

Description

Some exercises can make you less likely to fall. They do this because they:

  • Make your muscles stronger
  • Improve your balance
  • Make your muscles more flexible
  • Increase how long you can be active

You can do these exercises anytime and almost anywhere. As you get stronger, you can hold each position longer or add light weights to your ankles. This will increase how effective the exercise is.

Try to exercise 2 or more days a week. Start off slowly and check with your doctor to make sure you are doing the right type of exercises for you.You may want to exercise on your own or join a group.

When you exercise, always make sure you breathe slowly and easily. Do not hold your breath.

Balance Exercises

You can do some balance exercises during everyday activities.

  • While waiting in line at the store, try balancing on 1 foot.
  • Try sitting down and standing up without using your hands.

Toe Stand

What it does: makes your calves and ankle muscles stronger:

  • Hold on to a solid support for balance, like the back of a chair.
  • Stand with your back straight and slightly bend both knees.
  • Push uponto your tiptoes as high as possible.
  • Slowly lower your heels to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 - 15 times.

Knee Curl

What it does: makes your buttock and lower back muscles stronger:

  • Hold on to a solid support for balance, like the back of a chair.
  • Stand with your back straight, feet shoulder width apart, and slightly bend both knees.
  • Lift 1 leg straight back behind you, then bend your knee and bring your heel toward your buttock.
  • Slowly lower your leg back to a standing position.
  • Repeat 10 - 15 times with each leg.

Leg Extension

What it does: makes your thigh muscles stronger and may decrease knee pain:

  • Sit in a straight-back chair with your feet on the floor.
  • Straighten 1 leg out in front of you as much as possible.
  • Slowly lower your leg back down.
  • Repeat 10 - 15 times with each leg.

Stretching the Back of Your Leg

What it does: makes it easier for you to move around:

  • Sit in a straight-back chair.
  • Put 1 foot on a low stool in front of you.
  • Straighten your leg that is on the stool and reach your hand toward this foot.
  • Hold for 10 - 20 seconds, then sit back up.
  • Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Other Activities

Walking is a great way to improve your strength, balance, and endurance.

  • Use a walking stick or walker as needed for support.
  • As you get stronger, try walking on uneven ground, such as sand or gravel.

Tai Chi is a good exercise for healthy adults to help develop balance.

Simple movements and exercises in a swimming pool can help improve balance and build strength.

When to Call the Doctor

If you have pain, dizziness, or problems breathing during or after an exercise, stop and talk with your physical therapist, nurse, or doctor.

References

Instability of geriatrics. In: Duthie EH, Katz, PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Eleseverier; 2007;chap17.

Rose DJ, Hernandez D. The role of exercices in fall prevention for older adults. Clin Geriatr Med. 2010 Nov:26(4):607-31.


Review Date: 5/17/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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