As we age there can be a decrease in confidence when it comes to participating in exercises, especially if there is a history of falls. There are ways to continue to participate in exercise to maintain strength and function and decrease your risk of falls. A falls prevention program can help with this. An effective program is one which creates a high level of challenge to the balance system, includes resistance training with emphasis on posture, lower limb strength and the addition of cognitive tasks.
This means that each program should include functional activities, strengthening exercises, balance promotion and coordination. Examples of these kinds of exercises are
- Strengthening– Sit to Stand:- This exercise is a simple and effective as it can be performed by almost anybody who has a chair. It consists of sitting down and moving to a standing position. Sit in the chair of your choice. Slide forward as far as possible. Move your feet back so your heels are lined up with the front edge of the chair. Use your butt and legs to stand up, making sure that your hips knees and toes are aligned. Lightly use your hands on the chair if necessary.
- Balance Promotion- Single Leg Balance:- this exercise can be progressed from standing with feet close together and take hands away from stationary object, and hold that position for 30 seconds. Second progression, move to holding onto a object with both hands then lift one foot up off the ground at a time. Third Progression, hold the foot up for longer taking a count of 3 to lower it back down to the ground. Fourth Progression, decrease the hold on the stationary object to just being with the finger tips. Final progression is to stand on one leg at a time and hold for 30 seconds. ** note: make sure that there is always a stationary object close by just in case the extra support is needed.
- Functional- Step overs:- It is a good exercise for basic leg strength as well as working on foot clearance over a object that can be an everyday movement like taking a step. Start off with one foot placed onto the step (low to the ground), with the other foot behind the step on the ground. Take a step forward over the step onto the ground in front (without placing the foot onto the step). You will then step back over the step to where your foot started. 4. Repeat on each leg. Make sure that you are keeping your feet about hip width apart during each step and that there is no rotation of the knee
- Coordination– Ball Pass:- having a kids soft bouncy ball, that is easy to hold onto, bounce the ball from a seated position to someone seated opposite to you. To make this activity harder you could add the element of a cognitive task such a word game to the passing of the ball.
These exercises can be conducted in a seated position or supported manner. These exercises are aimed to prevent falls, improve strength, improve coordination, improve balance, improve function, improve independence and improve quality of life. All exercises can be modified to suit individual needs.