Can you prevent falls and fractures by exercising even if you are over 70 years old? The answer is a resounding yes! I have always been a proponent of exercise and for incorporating balance exercises in routines to prevent falls and subsequent fractures. Exercise can build bone mass, maintain strength and lean body mass, improve memory and mental and physical function, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and more. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in September 2010, the authors found long -term benefits of exercise in elderly women with osteopenia.
They looked as several end points such as bone mineral density, postural sway, walking speed, strength and hip fractures. While bone mineral density was not improved in the exercise group, the study showed how exercise reduced falls, fall related hip fractures and increased strength and gait speed. Exercises also had fewer deaths from any cause. Hip fractures and death from any cause were more common in those who did not participate in the study and did not perform any weight bearing exercise.
It didn’t take much exercise to gain these improvements. The participants were asked to attend a training session once a week for 6 months and to perform 20 minutes of activity on their own on a daily basis. They performed some strength, balance and endurance exercises on their own for a year.
You are never too old and it’s never too late to start an exercise program. Exercise has some very positive fitness, anti aging and preventive health benefits. The earlier you start, the better since you would be better able to build and maintain bone mass and prevent degenerative disease. So, get moving to start improving your health. Small changes can make a big difference. Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new exercise program. Here’s to your health.