Nourish and Exercise Your Body

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Stay Strong to Reduce Risk of Falls

Strength begins to decrease after the age of 50 and decreases more rapidly after the age of 70. A common myth is that  muscle strength and flexibility cannot be regained. While we do lose muscle as we age, older people have a great capacity to increase muscle strength and balance. In fact, it is never too late to start an exercise program. Even if you’ve been physically inactive up to this point in your life, beginning now will help you in maintaining independence, including protection from falls.

Fall prevention is important for a variety of reasons. Nationally, one out of every three people age 65 years and older falls each year. In 2007, more than 18,000 people age 65 and older died from unintentional fall injuries. Falls are the leading cause of injury death for older Americans. In 2000, the direct medical cost of fatal and nonfatal fall injuries totaled more than $19 billion (that’s $28.2 billion in 2010 dollars). The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $54.9 billion by 2020.

Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence, and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Strong evidence supports the effectiveness of fall-prevention programs, particularly those that target multiple risk factors. Older adults can reduce their risks of falls by improving balance and strength, along with implementing other prevention strategies such as home modifications, community safety, vision and medication review.

See more at National Council on Aging.

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This project is supported by the Rural Health & Safety Education Competitive Grant Program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), grant number 2013-46100-21467.

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