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Staying physically active is the single most important thing we can do to stay fit and independent as we get older. Physical activity is good for our bodies and our minds. It also helps us to remain independent and to get the most out of life. Research shows that we can substantially reduce our risk of a fall by doing moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, and by incorporating balance and leg strength exercises such as those you will find on this website, into our daily routine. Read the Staying active and on your feet booklet for more information.
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Tai Chi is a good way to exercise your balance. It uses slow and rhythmical movements of the trunk and limbs whilst controlling your balance. Tai Chi can improve balance in older adults as this type of training involves walking, balance, co-ordination, and muscle strengthening exercises. Tai Chi is widely recognised as being one of the most effective approaches to preventing falls.
Read about how Tai Chi can improve your balance and keep you on your feet Tai Chi - Good News Story
Stepping On is a free program for people over the age of 65 years living in the community. The program is considered to be one of the most effective evidence-based falls prevention programs available and has been shown to reduce participants' risk of falling by 31% (Clemson et al 2004). Participants attend seven two-hour group sessions, during which they learn about strengthening and balance exercises, safe footwear, medication management, vision, nutrition, moving safely in the community and reducing hazards around the home that can lead to accidents. www.steppingon.com
When you're over 65, it is important to build in some exercises to train your muscle strength, balance and co-ordination. Activities such as dance, yoga and Pilates all have a strong balance component. The exercises should be safe, but should challenge balance and develop strength. Group-based strength and balance classes are monitored by fitness leaders and health professionals, and are also an opportunity for social engagement.
If you have a specific health condition such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Arthritis or eye problems (including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration), there is some extra information for you about exercises to prevent falls for your condition. Read more about the specific conditions here.
You can also do some exercises at home to improve your balance and strength, and therefore reduce your risk of a fall.
Home based balance and strength exercises video
Click to download the video (WARNING LARGE FILE)
There are three simple steps to finding an Exercise Program in your local area. All you need to do is:
- Enter your Town or Suburb in the Location field in the orange box on the left of this screen.
- Enter a search distance in the Distance field underneath. The system will automatically default to 5kms (recommended) but you can choose between 1km and 50kms if you wish.
- Click the Find Now button.
This website will then identify and list registered Exercise Programs that have specific exercises to improve balance and strength, available in your local area.
If none are available, you may wish to consider widening your search by adjusting the Distance field to a greater distance.
If you receive a large number of responses, you may wish to refine your search by adjusting the Distance field to a lesser distance.
There are many other things you can do to help yourself stay active and on your feet. This website not only provides information about exercises, but also about your health, making your home environment safe, what to do if you do have a fall, and home and lifestyle checklists to help you reduce your risk. To learn more about staying active and healthy and fall prevention, read Your Active and Healthy Guide.
It is recommended you talk to your doctor if you have had a fall or if you are unsteady on your feet.