With one in three adults over the age of 65 falling each year, experts recommend that seniors participate in exercise that targets balance and joint stability. Joint stability and balance are key factors in preventing falls and injuries. Falls are serious, especially if they result in a hip fracture. The one-year mortality rate after a hip fracture is as high as 25 percent. The best defense against injuries of this type is an exercise program that focuses on retaining and adding lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass around joints helps retain the integrity of the joint and can help prevent over extension and injury. 

The first step of course is to have a discussion with your doctor about exercise and seek his or her approval and recommendations. You don’t have to work out with heavy weights to benefit. Depending on your age and level of fitness you can exercise with as little as 10 pound weights and still gain benefits. I’m 66 and I have a fairly challenging workout program. I do a “split” workout, upper body on Monday and Thursday and lower body on Tuesday and Friday. I work with medium heavy weights, bench press 135 pounds, shoulder press 100 pounds, curls 25 pound dumbbells. If you are able to do this that’s great but start out slowly.

If you are older and not used to exercise you may want to check out some local gyms and see if they offer the Silver Sneakers Program. It’s a workout program that is targeted for the older set. Many health insurance companies will cover the cost of the gym membership. http://www.silversneakers.com

Balance is critical for staying safe and a strong muscular-skeletal system promotes good balance. When you create or choose and exercise plan be sure to include exercises that strengthen your ankles and legs. Here’s a link to some suggested exercises from the Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/balance-exercises/SM00049&slide=2

Yoga is another really good way to improve your balance. Improve your balance and you'll also strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility and muscular control. Here’s a link with several poses that will help improve your balance. http://yoga.about.com/od/yogaposes/tp/Standing-Balances-Sequence.htm.

 


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