Reducing Falls with Exercise

Reducing Falls with Exercise

Did you know?

1 in 3 healthy adults in Canada over the age of 65 will fall once per year. The rates are higher for those over 75 years old and those with neurological conditions (Parkinson’s, MS, stroke, etc.) A study conducted by Tannenbaum et al in 2005, showed that falls and osteoporosis were among the top health concerns for Canadian women over the age of 55, which were higher than concerns for cancer, and heart disease.

 So why is this important?

Not only can falling result in serious injuries (fractures, brain injuries, etc.), but simply a fear of falling can lead to decreased participation in physical activity and exercise. A lack of exercise and physical activity can lead to deconditioning and functional decline, which can lead to higher risk of falls.

So, how can we stop this vicious cycle?

Good news! Research has shown that an exercise program incorporating balance, strength and flexibility training can help reduce the risk of falls. This is because exercise can improve strength, balance, power, mobility and reaction time. All these components working together can reduce the risk of falling. Exercise can also decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density and bone strength.

Okay, so now that we know how exercise can help, how can we make sure we are doing it safely and correctly?

Our physiotherapists can help! Physiotherapists are registered healthcare professionals, with expertise in therapeutic exercise to help you move better and more confidently. Your physiotherapist will have a discussion with you about your health history and goals, and then conduct a thorough physical examination and balance assessment. Your physiotherapist will then create a tailored exercise program which may include working on strength, balance, mobility and more, depending on your goals. You can then do your exercises in our clinic gym, under the guidance and supervision of your physiotherapist. You may also be given some exercises to work on at home, and your physiotherapist will make sure that they are safe to do independently.

In addition to regular exercise and physical activity, here are some other steps you can take to prevent falls:

  • Have your vision checked.
  • Review medications for side effects.
  • Ensure that there is adequate lighting in your environment.
  • Minimize tripping hazards in your environment such as area rugs or objects in your path.
  • Take your time and watch your step, use extra caution when walking on icy or slippery surfaces, and avoid distractions such as your cell phone.
  • Speak to your doctor if you have had a fall or are experiencing symptoms of dizziness.

Reference: Tannenbaum, C., Mayo, N., & Ducharme, F. (2005). Older women’s health priorities and perceptions of care delivery: results of the WOW health survey. CMAJ. 173 (2) 153-159; DOI: