There’s no use denying it any longer. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, winter is here. It snuck up on us during the mad dash leading up to Christmas.
For many of us, that means for the next few months every time we step out of our door we’re likely to be stepping onto a layer of snow and ice. And in those conditions, staying on your feet can be a challenge sometimes.
Falls can be embarrassing and inconvenient no matter your age. But if you’re no spring chicken anymore, a fall could also be downright dangerous.
A fall can leave you in pain, disabled, or stuck in a long-term-care facility. And falling becomes more common and more dangerous with each passing year.
Older Americans DYING from this hidden hazard
Every 11 seconds a senior ends up being treated in the E.R. for a fall. In fact, one in four American seniors 65 and up takes a tumble each year.
And most frightening of all, every 19 minutes an older adult dies from falling.
Which means preventing one not only can help keep you out of the hospital. It could literally keep you out of the graveyard too.
There isn’t a drug in existence which could do that for you. But there IS another kind of “prescription” which could. It turns out taking THIS simple step could slash your fall risk and even save your life.
Slash your risk of dangerous or deadly falls
You already know that exercise can help keep your head, heart, and even your bones healthy. But a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that if you’re an older adult unseating your seat could ALSO be the key to preventing a dangerous tumble.
Researchers crunched the numbers from over 40 different randomized trials involving nearly 22,000 volunteers. And they found that regular exercise sent folks risk for falling or suffering an injury plummeting.
And the best news of all is you don’t have to live at the gym or turn into a muscle head to get these benefits. Because according to the researchers a 50-minute session two or three times a week should do the trick.
Walking or another aerobic exercise you enjoy such as dancing or swimming are one option. Or you can mix things up with balance and strength training moves that will help stabilize and beef up your lower limbs to keep you on your feet.
Balance building moves to prevent falls
Need some help getting started? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Following are three balance building moves to try.
But before you get started, grab a sturdy chair and a friend to help until you’re steadier on your feet. And don’t forget, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doc first too.
1. One-leg balancing:
A super easy way to improve your balance to avoid falls is to practice standing on one foot. Grab your chair and let’s get started.
- Place the chair in front of you and stand behind it holding onto the back.
- When ready, slowly lift your left leg behind you, bending it at the knee.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds, rest, and repeat 10 times.
- Switch legs and repeat the whole sequence with your right leg this time.
When you feel more confident, try releasing your grip on the chair to perform the exercise.
2. Single-leg swings:
You can take your one-leg balancing to the next level… and help prevent falls at the same time… by turning them into single-leg swings. You’ll need a chair (and possibly a friend) close by for this one too. This time put the chair on your right side with the back facing you.
- Grasp the back of the chair with your right hand.
- Bend your left leg at the knee, so that is about five inches off the floor.
- Swing the leg forwards and back 10 times (touch the floor as needed).
- Switch sides, placing the chair on your left and using your right foot.
As your balance improves, you can try releasing the back of the chair to make this move. But be sure to keep it close to grab onto if needed.
3. Heel-to-toe stepping:
Once you’ve mastered the first two moves, you can give heel-to-toe stepping a try. This challenging exercise is an excellent way to build your balance and avoid falls.
Start by standing with your feet lined up, so the heel of your one foot is in front of the toes of your other foot. They should almost be touching.
- Focus your attention on a spot a few feet ahead of you.
- Take a step moving the foot in back forward, placing the heel in front of the toes of your other foot.
- Continue placing the foot at the back in front of the foot in the front.
- Try to increase your steps up to 20 a day.
Make sure you have a friend on hand to keep an eye on you until you feel steady on your feet
Don’t let a fall take YOU out of the game. Commit to unseating your seat at least twice a week to rebuild your balance and keep you ON your feet and OUT of the hospital.