Each year, one in four Americans age 65 and older will experience a fall External Site, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. They often result in serious injuries, decreased mobility and loss of independence.
Exercise is a proven way to prevent falls. That’s why it’s important to keep up an exercise routine during the cold winter months. Exercise improves endurance, muscle strength and flexibility.
A study of more than 4,300 participants over the age of 60 concluded that any exercise can help prevent falls and related injuries. The study looked at 17 trials, some specifically aimed at improving balance, some general exercise programs, while two were focused on tai chi. Researchers concluded that exercise not only reduces the odds of a fall, it also decreases the odds of fall-related injuries by 37 percent.
Not sure what to do at the gym? These exercises will help improve your balance, strength and flexibility:
- Walk, bicycle or climb stairs to strengthen the muscles of your legs and lower body.
- Use weights, elastic bands, or a weight machine to build upper- and lower-body muscle strength.
- Stretch muscles and joints to improve balance.
- Consider yoga to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility.
- Try tai chi to improve muscle strength while increasing balance.
Don't have a gym membership? If you're a Wellmark member, you have access to a network of gyms for just $29 a month through Blue365®. In addition to fitness options, Blue365 has lots of deals and discounts available. Check them out External Site today!
Vision and hearing are crucial for balance
Impaired vision can affect your balance, and doubles your chance of a fall, according to the CDC. What’s more, people with mild hearing loss are three times more likely to have a history of falling, because the inner part of your inner ear also controls your balance.
That’s why it’s so important to have regular eye exams and have your hearing checked regularly.
If you have a Medicare supplement plan through Wellmark, you may also be eligible to enroll in a vision and hearing plan Opens New Window from Avesis Vision and Amplifon Hearing Health Care. Enjoy broad coverage to protect your sight and your hearing with:
- Low-cost, high-impact benefits
- Affordable premiums
- Generous allowances for frames, lenses, hearing aids and other materials
- A nationwide provider network
Avēsis Vision is an independent vision insurance company that does not provide Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota products and services. Avēsis Vision is underwritten by Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, Kansas City, Missouri. Hearing Discount Savings Plan provided by Amplifon Hearing Health CareTM. Amplifon is an independent company that does not provide Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota products or services.