HANDI

Patient Resources

Exercise for preventing falls

Musculoskeletal
        1. Exercise for preventing falls

First published: 6 Dec 2020

The RACGP gratefully acknowledge the following contributor:

  • Zoe Michaleff and Cathie Sherrington

Related GP HANDI entry Exercises for falls prevention


 

Key points

  • Exercise can help prevent falls.
  • The best types of exercise to prevent falls are those that improve balance, strength, and function.
  • Safety first – take steps to avoid falls while exercising. For example, remove anything that can trip you up. Exercise next to a sturdy surface (e.g. table or kitchen bench) so you can support yourself if needed. Wear shoes with non-slip soles.

Why is preventing falls important?

  • Falls are common among older people.
  • Falls can cause injuries, ranging from a bruise to a broken bone or head injury.
  • Falls can also cause a fear of falling and loss of confidence when doing everyday activities – this can affect your independence and quality of life.

How can exercise help to reduce falls?

  • As you get older, your muscles get weaker, and you may experience a loss of balance and walking ability. Exercise has been found to improve muscle strength, balance and walking ability, all of which can reduce the risk of falling.
  • The best types of exercise to prevent falls are those that involve balance and functional training (training that helps you do everyday activities). This type of training can also be combined with strengthening exercises. Tai chi can also help prevent falls.
  • You need to do the exercises regularly over time, e.g. 30 minutes most days a week. Aim for a total of 2 hours of balance and functional training (with or without strength exercises) per week or almost 3 hours of Tai chi per week.
  • As you exercise and get stronger, it is important that you increase the exercise difficulty over time so you keep getting the most benefit.

Visit Safe exercise at home for how to exercise safely at home, examples of exercises and how to increase their difficulty.

How do I get started?

  • Your doctor may have referred you to a physiotherapist, an exercise physiologist or an accredited exercise or fitness instructor. These professionals can you develop an exercise program. They can teach you how to exercise safely and how to get the most benefit.
  • You can also contact your local hospital, council or health department to find fall prevention exercise programs in your area. You are usually supervised by a health professional when you first start, and are then encouraged to continue exercising at home.
  • Exercises work whether you do them on your own or in a group. Group exercise has the added benefit of being socially enjoyable. Note: If exercising in a group, follow current COVID-19 rules, e.g. physical distancing.
  • Importantly, the exercises you choose should be something you enjoy, can afford and access easily and fit your lifestyle.

Staying safe while exercising

  • When exercising on your home at home, it is important that you make it safe, for example, removing anything that can trip you up.
  • Exercise next to a sturdy surface such as a table or kitchen bench so you can support yourself if needed.
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Speak with a nurse on Musculoskeletal Australia’s free help line 1800 263 265 (weekdays 9 am – 5 pm).
This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

Did you know you can now log your CPD with a click of a button?

Create Quick log