NHS figures show that around one in three adults over 65 falls at least once a year, says physiotherapist Katie Knapton, while half of people over 80 fall at least once a year. In 2013, figures from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence estimated they cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion each year.
“Not all falls result in serious injury, but it’s a concern that’s best addressed in our 40s and 50s, a time when we also lose muscle strength,” said Knapton, who has more than 30 years of experience at King’s College Hospital and Guy’s Hospital, the founders of the private online physical therapy service PhysioFast Online.
Balance and strength are linked. “We use our ability to constantly balance without realizing it to stay upright,” she explains. But we neglect it at our peril. “For example, if you fall later in life and break your hip, your mobility can decrease dramatically.
“It’s especially important for peri-menopausal women to work on balance control and strength training to reduce the likelihood of later falls because at this point in life women are losing bone density, muscle mass and strength due to a natural decline in estrogen. “
The good news, says Knapton, is that our brains and bodies are remarkably adaptable, so we can all work on our balance at any age to delay and reduce the risk of falling. “Whether we’re nine or 100, we just have to keep at it and keep working at it,” she urges. That’s why a 2019 report by the Center for Aging Better called for the adoption of accessible strength and balance programs for older adults in local communities.
“As children, we fearlessly test our balance, falling and getting up. As we get older, we tend to get into a safe zone with our movements,” explains Knapton. “The worst thing that can happen as you get older is that you lose confidence in your balance because you have fallen or almost fell. Then you can fall into a cycle of moving less.
“People are getting weaker and thinking it’s inevitable and it really isn’t. If you can brush your teeth every day, you can work on your balance every day.”
The Best Ways to Build Your Strength in Your 50s
Public Health England specifically recommends Nordic walking as a balance-enhancing activity. Thanks to the added resistance of the poles, muscles and bones are also strengthened.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for good health cover four areas: cardiovascular activity, strengthening activities, reducing prolonged sedentary (sitting) time and activities to improve balance and coordination. Nordic Walking fulfills all these criteria.
Balance exercises without equipment
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/life/best-exercise-50s-how-improve-strength-fitness-stability-training-2022/ The best exercise for over 50s — to improve strength and brain power