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June 2023
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Exercise Keeps Elderly Standing Tall

Kiwi Researchers Find Exercising Prevents Elderly from Falls

It’s a line that ought to be canonized in the annals of the Advertising Hall of Fame. 

Elderly man lifting weights.

Elderly man lifting weights.

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

When the distressed woman and the company behind the commercial first hit the TV box, her dire call was considered humorous rather than serious (mainly because of the way in which the elderly woman yelled out, not so much because she’d fallen).

Falls sustained by the elderly are anything but humorous, of course.  Falls are quite serious and quite commonplace.  Consider these numbers compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2005 as to just how commonplace they are:

• Between 1991 and 2002, there was a near 75 percent increase in product-related slips, trips and falls among the elderly, virtually all of them serious enough to require emergency room treatment

• Each week, more than 30,000 elderly (age 65 and older) are treated for an injury related to a fall

• Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among males and females over the age of 75

Whether it’s slipping on a sheet of ice in the driveway, losing one’s balance in the kitchen, or a misstep in a stairwell, falling when elderly is not the same as falling when young or even middle-aged.  Rarely can you pick yourself up and dust yourself off without having sustained some kind of injury.

Thankfully, companies use advertisements like the one mentioned to help illustrate the nature of the problem.  The company Life Alert allows an elderly person to simply press a button on their wrist or necklace when they’ve fallen so that local authorities can be notified.

But that’s after the fact.  What if there was a way to assure an elderly person doesn’t fall down in the first place; one that helps him or her maintain their independence at the same time?  Answer?  Exercise.

We all know the benefits of exercise:  old or young, it improves quality of life.  So it stands to reason that exercise improves quality of life by minimizing falls, right?  After all, the stronger you are, the less likely you are to take a tumble or stumble.  Well thanks to some researchers from New Zealand, we now have concrete evidence that this is indeed the case.

Researchers from the University of Otago reviewed data from over 55,300 elderly and compared how people who exercised regularly measured up to other treatments aimed at decreasing the incidence of falls (e.g. treatments included vitamin D supplements, home care interventions, home safety renovations, eye surgery to improve eyesight, etc.). 

Their review revealed just how effective exercise is in comparison to other remedies aimed at minimizing falls, because those who exercised were both less likely to fall and fell less frequently overall in comparison to other treatments aimed at reducing fall frequency.

The only other intervention that showed improvements in the elderly falling less frequently was the weaning off of prescription drug treatments.  Initially, the prescription drugs were taken so that they could sleep better or as an aid in battling depression.  But as they were weaned off these drugs, they too decreased the likelihood of falls.

Yet more evidence of the positive impact exercise has on the body; likewise, how weaning off of prescription drugs makes for a “steadier” lifestyle – quite literally. 


Related Posts

  1. Mind Strong: A Resilient Mind Grounded in Exercise
  2. Exercise Away the Pain
  3. Exercise: The New Colonoscopy
  4. Incontinence Drugs Yield Memory Problems
  5. Vitamin D: The Versatile Vitamin

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