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Be Physically Active and Prevent Falls

older man outdoors Muscle weakness, poor balance and loss of flexibility are key risks for falling. These factors are common in older adults, but getting regular physical activity can help reverse these conditions. It’s important to stay active. Studies show that exercise decreases the risk of falling.

Talk with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor before trying any new exercise program or new physical activity to make sure it is appropriate for your needs or limitations. Your provider may also be able to recommend specific exercises
and some local programs.

  • Do physical activities that improve your strength, balance and coordination.
    • Any kind of physical activity is good, but exercise that improves balance, strength and coordination, such as Tai Chi, is especially helpful in preventing falls.

  • Take free fitness classes.
    • Check BefitNYC and your local Senior Center for classes near you.
      • Try BeFitNYC, a search engine for free and low-cost fitness activities hosted by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Go to the search box and type in “Senior,” “Tai Chi,” “Yoga” or “Walking” to find listings of exercise classes throughout the city. Or call 311 for help.


      • NYC Department for the Aging Senior Centers host free exercise classes. Find a Senior Center near you. Use the “Senior Services” search boxes on the web page or call 311 for help.


    • Check with your local hospital or health care provider to learn about other exercise classes near you.

  • Walking works! Exercise with friends and family. Schedule a walk in the neighborhood or nearby park.


  • Exercise at home. There are many ways to get exercise at home. You can exercise on your own or with a friend by using these guides:

 

Benefits of Physical Activity
  • Staying active lowers your chances of falling because it strengthens muscles, bones, and improves balance.


  • Physical activity helps prevent and control high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and diabetes and helps control pain associated with conditions such as arthritis.


  • Regular physical activity improves mood and makes you healthier. It’s never too late to start!

 

Physical Activity Tips
  • Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days a week. You don’t have to do it all at once – just 10 minutes at a time is fine.


  • Wear shoes that fit you well and that are made for exercise. Look for shoes with flat, non-skid soles, good heel support, enough room for your toes, and a cushioned arch that's not too high or too thick.


  • Drink enough water every day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration, which occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in, can cause a drop in blood pressure that can cause you to fall. Check with your doctor before beginning a physical activity regimen if you’ve been told to limit your fluid intake.


  • Healthy eating can help give you energy keep
    you moving.


  • Ask your doctor or health care provider about the best type of physical activity for you.

 

Last Updated: August 10, 2012