Don't fall for it

Keeping yourself mobile

Page last updated: 06 May 2011

Inactive or unfit people tend to have poorer balance and weaker muscles and can be unsteady when walking. These can all increase the risk of falling. It is common for people who feel unsteady to do less walking. Over time this actually makes you more likely to fall because your muscles get weaker, your joints stiffer and your balance gets worse.

Our bodies were designed to move. Physical activity keeps us healthy and reduces the risk of falls. It can also:

  • Improve balance
  • I mprove muscle strength and flexibility
  • Keep bones strong
  • Increase energy levels
  • Help with sleeping problems
  • Help to control blood pressure, blood sugar levels and weight
  • Help you to feel good about life

What you can do:
  • Be physically active every day. Whatever your age, aim to do at least 30 minutes of activity, at least 5 times a week.
  • he activity should make you breathe a bit faster and your heart pump a bit harder, but you should still be able to talk while doing the activity.
  • Exercises and activities that make you both stronger and improve your balance lower the risk of having a fall.
  • Some examples are Tai Chi, dancing or group exercise programs that include balance and muscle strengthening.
  • Talk to a physiotherapist about which balance and strengthening exercises or activities will best suit you, and how to manage any pain you might have.
  • A physiotherapist can also advise you about whether a walking aid, such as a stick or frame, would help you. Using a walking aid can increase your steadiness
  • and confidence to walk more. It is important that walking aids are properly adjusted for you, and that they are properly maintained (eg replace worn stoppers).
  • Talk to your doctor if your health problems or pain make you worried about attempting more activity.
  • If you have arthritis, being active helps to control pain, weakness and stiffness.

Where you can find help or advice:
  • Commonwealth Carelink, for help finding physiotherapists, accredited exercise or fitness instructors and physical activities in your area
  • Your local council, for information on activities in your area
  • Community Health Centres and Day Therapy Centres for physiotherapy services
  • Your local library, for booklets or videos on exercise for older people
  • Arthritis Association, for information about exercising with arthritis
See page 29 for a list of support services for older people.