As we age, our physical and cognitive health naturally decline. This decline is further perpetuated by inactivity or sedentary behaviour. There is a way to counter this decline however, which is through engaging in healthy behaviours such as exercise.🚶
With a decline in muscle strength or function, we also lose the ability to have good postural control and thus be more prone to falls. Falls are a leading cause of injury or even death in the elderly. In Singapore, about a third of those aged 65 and above have recurring falls and this rate increases sharply with age.🧓
Balance is the foundation of being upright, and should thus be included in exercise programmes, especially falls prevention for the elderly. In order to balance, our visual system👀, joints and muscles🦶, and vestibular/inner ear systems👂 have to work together.
You can even start training at home.
For beginners or non-exercisers, start by:
- sitting unsupported on a stable chair, lift one leg up while keeping body upright and not lean sideways
- standing near a stable surface, lift one leg up slightly while keeping body upright
Hold for 5-10 seconds, repeat 5-10 times, and switch legs.
Once stable, you may add movements:
- modified side lunge to pick up a small bottle, repeat 10 times
- modified Romanian deadlift to pick up a small bottle, repeat 10 times
- walking while carrying 2 cups of water
- walking while carrying a cup of water and talking to a friend
This challenges all the sensory inputs.
For advanced exercisers:
- after having good balance standing on one leg, add either arm or opposite leg movements. This will be harder with a weight or resistance band.
- you may further challenge yourself using equipment such as a Swiss ball.
Do not attempt if you have not been exercising regularly. 🤸
Remember to start small and slowly build up, incorporating into your workout routines. Athletes may need to do more than what is shown here in order to prevent sporting injuries. 😉
This is a non-comprehensive list so do seek a physiotherapist or arrange an appointment with us at 82182905🤳 / 62620970📞 for more specific methods suited for your needs.
📝1. Orange Valley Nursing Homes. (2019, July 11). Reduce The Risk Of Falling. https://orangevalley.sg/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Reduce-The-Risk-Of-Falling-19082018.jpg [online]
📝2.Thomas, E., Battaglia, G., Patti, A., Brusa, J., Leonardi, V., Palma, A., & Bellafiore, M. (2019). Physical activity programs for balance and fall prevention in elderly: A systematic review. Medicine, 98(27), e16218. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000016218
📝3. Aartolahti, E., Lönnroos, E., Hartikainen, S., & Häkkinen, A. (2020). Long-term strength and balance training in prevention of decline in muscle strength and mobility in older adults. Aging clinical and experimental research, 32(1), 59-66.
📝4. Brachman, A., Kamieniarz, A., Michalska, J., Pawłowski, M., Słomka, K. J., & Juras, G. (2017). Balance Training Programs in Athletes - a Systematic Review. Journal of human kinetics, 58, 45–64. https://doi.org/10.1515/hukin-2017-0088
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