This is the second in a series of four articles in our Fall Into Better Health series.
Aging may not be preventable, but we have plenty of control over how we age—especially in the physical sense. In fact, millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented, or improved, through regular exercise. From weight management and better sleep to maintaining muscle, joint, and bone mass, regular exercise has clear benefits. Perhaps the most important benefit is the role exercise plays in preventing falls - or injury - when a fall occurs.According to the CDC, more than one out of four people fall each year and falling once, more than doubles your chance to fall again. What’s more, are the illnesses and other health burdens physical inactivity can cause, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even colon cancer.
What can you do? There are various forms of strength and balance exercises you can start practicing today to reduce your chances of a fall and maintain overall physical health in your years to come. Here are some ways you can get - and stay - moving:
Yoga and Other Low-Impact Exercises
Whether you’re concerned about bone health or ways in which you can reduce anxiety and depression, the benefits of yoga for older adults continue to surprise and inspire healthcare professionals, patients, and everyone in between. Different ages call for different forms and poses, like yin yoga, for example, which is a slower practice. This style consists of holding poses for upwards of 20 minutes, and is especially beneficial for lubricating and nourishing the joints, which becomes essential in your late 50s and early 60s. Light strength-training is another low-impact exercise that does wonders for muscle mass when it comes to fall and injury prevention. From elastic resistance bands to light hand weights, there are plenty of things you can do right at home that will go a long way. And remember, walking is still one of the best exercises for your entire body, so when in doubt, walk it out.
Coordination and balance are key to improving stability and preventing falls and becomes increasingly important with each passing year for everyday health. The good news is that there are so many simple ways to incorporate balance exercises into your daily routine. For instance, a one-foot balance is something you can do while brushing your teeth. Try it for 10 seconds on each foot, each night, and as your balance starts to increase, increase your time. Another option is the sit-to-stand exercise, which helps to build leg strength and improve overall body mechanics—and all you need is a sturdy chair. To start, sit comfortably with your feet flat on the ground and then lean forward slightly (while squeezing your gluteal muscles) and slowly rise to a standing position. Repeating this exercise, like with many others, can make a significant long-term impact on your strength and flexibility.
Keeping It All Together
While regular exercising is critical, staying on top of all areas of your physical health is key to wellness. From proper nutrition and careful management of medications and treatment to getting enough sleep, there are a number of factors that play a role in the aging process. Keeping a close eye on all of your physical changes for better or for worse, will help to ensure a healthier and happier future.
Looking for a good challenge? We’re including one in every post of this four-part series so that you can start today.
PART 2 CHALLENGE
Balancing exercises are easy to do wherever you are, so this week, pick one exercise to master and make part of your daily routine, whether morning or at night. When you get the hang of it, increase the difficulty and see how long you can keep it going. You may surprise yourself and really enjoy the challenge. Keep things even more interesting and try it with a friend or neighbor!
If you are caring for a loved one you may find some helpful tips in our guide below!