New exercises to help prevent elderly falls

Angie Asimus

As we age, falling over isn’t just embarrassing it can be down-right dangerous.

After turning 65, falling is three times more likely to put the person in hospital, but now research has revealed the types of exercise that are the key to staying upright.

All it takes is a slight bump, a misjudged seat or a foot out of place and you’re down and potentially out.

One in three Australians aged 65 and over will take at least one serious stumble.

“People can have long-term disability, they can lose their confidence, they can stop going out and being part of society and we really become fearful of having another fall,” Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann of the George Institute for Global Health said.

This year, one-in-three Australians over 65 will take a serious tumble, while for those over the age of 80, it's one in two.

“You've got to stay vertical. That's important really. It's one of those things that unless you do work on it, you find that you don't have that flexibility or the will to carry on," balance class participant Harry Eagleton said.

A recent review of 88 trials involving almost 20,000 people aged 65 and over found... three hours a week of high challenge balancing exercises slashed the risk of falling by almost forty percent

The best exercises are the ones that work on the lower body. There are six muscle groups you need to work on - one is your butt, one is your belly, one's your thigh - and the other ones are down at the feet.

Despite strong evidence showing balance exercises drastically reduce the risk of falling, only 6 per cent of Australians over 65 are participating in these potentially live saving activities. The solution?

It's all those functional activities we're talking about - it's not sort of being able to do the six minute mile run or whatever, it's about being able to control your body and getting out and having fun.

For more information visit the Falls Prevention Network.