Strength training exercises can help reduce your risk of falling
It makes sense that the stronger your muscles are, the less likely you are to fall and yet fewer than one in 10 older adults regularly do strength training. Now new research has proved that doing strength-specific exercises does indeed decrease your risk of falling by as much as 30%.
Researchers from the University of Sydney designed a special exercise routine called the Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) programme. It involves exercises focusing on improving balance and building lower-limb strength, but what makes it different is that the exercises are incorporated into daily routines. The idea is to make it easier for people to actually stick to doing the exercises.
More than 300 study participants all aged 70 were recruited to take part in the study, and all had had two or more falls or had injured themselves in a fall within the last year. One group were put on the LiFE programme, another did a structured exercise programme (done three times a week using ankle weights), and one final group did ‘sham’ (non-effective) exercises. All participants were asked to record how many falls they had over a period of a year. Those in the LiFE programme had 31% fewer falls compared to the control group (those who did the non-effective exercises). Those in the structured exercise programme also had fewer falls but the results were not classed as significant.
On further investigation, study participants on the LiFE programme were found to have improved ankle strength and balance. This, say the researchers, suggests that the programme reduces frailty and the risk of falling.
Help research into falls
If you or someone you know has had a fall outside in the last year, then you could play a part in making pavements and kerbs safer by taking part in a quick survey.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow Caledonian University are engaged in a major project, led by Dr Chantelle Anandan, who explains why they’d like your help; "We’d like to use this information to understand the key risk factors that are associated with outdoor falls in the elderly. This information, along with results from the other work packages in our project, will hopefully lead on to improvements in the design and maintenance of roads and pavements so that we can improve the quality of life of the elderly".
Go to the survey questions.