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Tips & Techniques to Get You Back to Full Strength

Improving Balance, Health and Reducing Falls As We Age

Dana Tress 
 • 
December 31, 2021
Improving Balance, Health and Reducing Falls As We Age

Moving into the New Year, many of us set resolutions and goals of what we would like to accomplish for ourselves over the next 365 days.  Many people begin with health related goals, such as weight loss and fitness.  The trouble with that is, if you are new to exercise, we often do not know where to start.  As it turns out, we are frequently not challenging ourselves enough - particularly as we get older.  So, what should we be doing?  Fortunately, some wonderful guidelines were just published in the Journal of Health And Aging entitled “International Exercise Recommendations in Older Adults: Expert Consensus Guidelines.”  This blog will summarize the key points of this article to help you create your health and fitness goals for the new year.

Unfortunately, many adults assume that going about their normal daily activities is enough exercise.  While it is wonderful to not be sedentary, things such as cleaning, grocery shopping, and a casual stroll around the block are typically not sufficient enough to challenge our bodies.  Following proper exercise guidelines has many benefits for the aging adult including reducing risk of falls, improving balance, reducing depression, improving cardiovascular health, improving bone and muscle density, and increasing cognitive function.  As the world’s population of adults over the age of 65 is expected to double in the next 30 years, finding proactive ways to reduce the negative effects of aging is so important.  Exercising at the right intensity is the answer!  Here are some tips:

  • Balance training 2 days per week, minimum
  • Strength training 2 days per week, minimum
  • Flexibility training following active exercises
  • Moderate aerobic exercise 150 minutes per week OR vigorous aerobic activity 75 minutes per week
  • Strength training should begin at 50% of one repetition max (the most you can lift or move at one time) and increase to 80% of your one repetition max, working up to 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Strength training should work on power as well, where the speed of the exercise is changed (such as lowering down into a squat slowly, and then returning to standing as quickly as possible)
  • Aerobic exercise should be completed at an intensity of 12-14/20 on the Borg Perceived Exertion Scale, as many medications (such as beta blockers) make relying on heart rate difficult to do
  • There is no need to take rest days between aerobic exercise, but resting 1-2 days between strength training the same muscle group is recommended

It is a great idea to discuss your fitness plans with a physical therapist or personal trainer before you begin.  Most people to do not think of coming to a physical therapist for prevention of injuries or disabilities, but they are skilled at assessing your current ability level and can help you design a safe, effective and comprehensive fitness program for yourself.  This can help you prevent injuries and are working on exercises specific to your needs and goals.  

We look forward to working with you at the Balance + Concussion Center!

 

References:

Izquierdo, M., Merchant, R.A., Morley, J.E. et al. International Exercise Recommendations in Older Adults (ICFSR): Expert Consensus Guidelines. J Nutr Health Aging 25, 824–853 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-021-1665-8

Meet the Author
Dana Tress, PT, CEAS, AIB-CON is a physical therapist specializing in the management of concussion, balance dysfunction, headaches and dizziness in Crystal Lake, Illinois at Smith Physical Therapy Balance + Concussion Center, an award winner in concierge physical therapy services for McHenry County and surrounding regions.
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