Exercise to prevent falls and fractures, say experts
Boosting your activity levels and doing strength and balance exercises significantly reduces your risk of breaking a bone as a result of falling if you are over 60, according to experts from an international research group.
LONDON, 3 October 2014: Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries among older people, but a new campaign launched by experts from across Europe says that they should not just be written off as an unavoidable consequence of ageing.
Following International Older People’s Day on 1 October, the British Geriatrics Society and the ProFouND network are advising people over the age of 60 to increase their exercise to reduce the risk of potentially fatal trips and falls.
ProFouND (the Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination) is a European Commission-funded network aiming to provide better falls prevention advice amongst older people across Europe.
ProFouND is currently training exercise coaches across Europe to deliver training in their local regions and extend exercise programmes to reach some 84,000 older people by 2016.
Falls cost the NHS £2.3billion a year and around a third of people over-65 and half of those over 80 will fall every year. Research shows that exercise can significantly reduce falls risk.
Older people who have a history of falls, take 4 or more medications, who have problems walking, use a walking aid or have conditions such as a previous stroke, Parkinson’s disease, dementia or arthritis are at increased risk of falls.
Fear of falling, problems with continence, poor vision or strength and balance problems also heighten the risk.
Professor Tahir Masud, from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“The golden rule to prevent falls and strengthen bones is to work on strength and balance. Exercising to help prevent falls is something that anyone can do, usually in their own home.
We would usually recommend someone with a history of falls or who has not been very active to visit their GP for prescribed exercises, which can start at their particular level of ability and be built up as they get stronger.
This could involve Tai Chi, squats to strengthen leg muscles, or standing on one leg to practice balancing.
Many people wrongly think that falls are just a part of ageing. This is not true at all: exercise will make you less likely to fall.”
Professor Chris Todd, overall project leader of the ProFouND network based at The University of Manchester, said:
“There is now a strong body of evidence, which shows doing strength and balance exercises can protect against falls. ProFouND is supporting the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing by making training material available across EU to help reduce the numbers of falls suffered by older people in Europe.
In the last year we have trained 35 instructors in Europe who will themselves train many more exercise coaches to help older people exercise safely and dramatically reduce their risk of falling. Our instructors are now carrying out work in more European countries working towards an EU standard.
Together the partnership hopes to make a real difference improving activity levels in later life and keeping people out of hospital for longer.”
Notes to editors:
For further information or to request an interview with Professor Masud or Professor Todd, please contact Alison Barbuti at ProFouND: 0161 275 8383 /
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) is a professional association of doctors practising geriatric medicine, old age psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, therapists, scientists, GPs and others with a particular interest in the medical care of older people and in promoting better health in old age. It has over 2,700 members worldwide and is the only society in the UK offering specialist medical expertise in the wide range of health care needs of older people.
Follow the BGS on Twitter @GeriSoc
ProFouND: The Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination is an EC funded initiative dedicated to bring about the dissemination and implementation of best practice in falls prevention across Europe lead by the University of Manchester. ProFouND comprises 21 partners from 12 countries, and associate members from a further 10 countries.
ProFouND aims to influence policy to increase awareness of falls and innovative prevention programmes amongst health and social care authorities, the commercial sector, non governmental organisations (NGOs) and the general public so as to facilitate communities of interest and disseminate the work of the network to target groups across EU.
The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing was launched in April 2012, and is made up of more than 70 organisations from all over the EU including universities and research groups, public authorities, health providers, industry, non-governmental organisations representing citizens, older people, patients and others interested in the field.
The EIP-AHA on Falls Prevention is supported by two EC funded networks:
ProFouND: The Prevention of Falls Network for Dissemination
E-NO FALLS: European Network for FALL Prevention, Intervention and Security
International Day of Older Persons: On December 14, 1990, the UN General Assembly made October 1 the International Day of Older Persons.