Most falls don’t end in serious injury. But, falling over could cause broken bones – especially in the elderly.
Exercising regularly reduces the risk of serious falls by 12 per cent in people over 65, according to a study by St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.
The risk was reduced to 38 per cent when patients exercised regularly, and had vision assessments.
The elderly are more likely to have a fall due to muscle weakness, poor vision, and any underlying long-term health conditions, including dementia, heart disease or low blood pressure.
“Falls have a huge impact on the wellness of our older population and, given the aging of the population worldwide, the incidence of falls continues to rise,” said Dr Andrea Tricco, a scientist at the hospital’s research institute.
“We have been able to identify the most effective strategies to reduce the risk of falls that cause injuries.
“Exercise alone, or in conjunction with vision assessments and environmental assessments, is very effective and should be considered by patients, clinicians and policy-makers.”
The research used results from 54 previous studies, combining data from almost 42,000 patients.
They also analysed 68 clinical trials, encompassing more than 85,000 elderly patients.
Osteoporosis medication, with calcium and vitamin D supplements, reduced the risk of fractures by 11 per cent in people that had falls, the researchers found.
Exercise, vision assessments and changing living environments also reduced the risk of damaging falls by 23 per cent.
Falls are more likely when the floor is wet or recently polished, according to the NHS.
Poorly lit rooms, unsecured rugs and going down stairs also increased the risk, it added.
Falling over could be presented by using non-slip mats in the bathroom and by mopping up spills to prevent wet, slippery floors.
Getting help lifting or moving heavy objects was recommended by the NHS.