Cold Weather Falls: Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Winter statistically represents a time when older people are more susceptible to slips, trips and falls. However, Balance Master’s Peter Hope argues that fall prevention is better than cure. In fact, Peter believes that by increasing awareness of and access to advice and exercise; older people are more likely to maintain their health and independence for longer; resulting in human benefits such as increased mobility, confidence and independence.
A recent study of the over 60’s concluded that it’s never too late to exercise and that even light exercise can successfully build muscle – as Peter explains: ‘Exercise has an important part to play in staying fit and active as we get older. Gentle activity has also been proven to reduce disability from certain disease, promote muscle activity and prevent weight gain’.
Our bodies are in a state of physiological decline from the mid 30’s; which adversely affects strength, power, flexibility and balance so it is vital to sustain a level of exercise and activity to maintain health and function. Recent initiatives for older people such as GP referral schemes, chair based exercise programs and postural stability courses have sought to address this issue. By offering older people access to exercises designed to reinstate power, strength and balance fitness can be improved and functional capacity maintained in even the less mobile.
The advantage of exercise has also been highlighted in the Department of Health’s National Service Framework for the Elderly. With a population bubble moving into older age, a fitter, more independent aging population could save the NHS significantly; as falls currently cost the NHS an estimated £1 billion per year.
The BalanceMaster lower limb exercised is ideal for older and less mobile people, because it does not have the perceived barriers to exercise that some traditional exercise machines do. The machine provides an important adjunct in rehabilitation; gradually improving patients’ functional capacity and balance confidence.
“Experts agree that improving balance reduces the risk factors for falls, while regular, gentle exercise, such as going for short walks or gardening, can help manage weight and benefit all-round health,” Peter says. “Supervised work on a BalanceMaster machine at a fitness center or hospital physiotherapy department can also create more flexible joints, improve balance and increase functional muscle strength,” states Peter, who has worked with leading exercise therapists for many years.
“Bearing in mind the proven link between exercise and health; exercising should be an enjoyable and productive part of every older person’s life; contributing to healthier and more independent old age. With increased education and awareness, even the less mobile should be able to participate in mild exercise; thereby improving the quality of life” concludes Peter.