We all know how painful it is to fall— and an icy sidewalk or snow-obstructed path can pose a significant fall hazard, especially for older adults.

One in five falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury. And every year, three million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are practical steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling, including keeping your home clear of clutter, removing hazards, wearing sturdy footwear and getting your eyes checked regularly. Maintaining a regular fitness routine that incorporates balance, strength and stability exercises can also help prevent falls.

One study found that regular resistance and agility training programs could reduce the risk of falls in older women with low bone mass, benefiting a particularly at-risk group prone to fall-related fractures. Women in the resistance and agility training groups reduced their fall risk by 57% and 47% respectively.

Another study found that exercise programs that incorporated strength and balance training were particularly effective for people over 65. Those participants who practiced balance and functional exercises saw a 42% reduction in the rate of falls compared to the control group.

How can Pilates exercises help prevent falls?

Pilates exercises often incorporate elements of balance, coordination, strength, stability and mobility in sitting, standing and prone positions, all of which are important movement skills to keep practicing as you age to prevent falls.

Practicing balance exercises, for example, can teach you how to maintain postural stability when stationary or moving, stabilize the body on moving surfaces and respond to unexpected external movements.

A 2017 study found that Pilates Reformer exercises practiced once a week for 10 weeks resulted in reduced fall risk and significant improvements in static and dynamic balance, functional mobility, balance and range of motion in adults over 65.

Balance exercises for fall prevention

In this fall prevention exercise video, Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer Sarah Jarvis demonstrates two Pilates exercises that focus on balance and stability. These exercises will strengthen the outer hip muscles and glutes, and bring awareness to pelvic stabilization and posture to encourage proper gait pattern. Try these exercises at home.

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