We aren’t talking about falling in love (which is important) but rather, according to Professor Dawn Skelton from Glasgow Caledonian University, the alarming rate that people as young as mid to late 40s are beginning to lose their balance.
Professor Skelton also points out that “Falls used to start to be a problem at age 65, but in the last 20 years we’ve seen that creep earlier and earlier, and now more people in their late 40s and early 50s are seeking medical help because of falls” (2020) Telegraph UK.
An Australian study compiled data from four studies looking at men & women from the ages of 40-64 in Australia, Ireland, Netherlands and Great Britain to look at the prevalence of falls.
The study found that Australian women had a 27% higher prevalence of falling compared to other countries (Peeters et al., 2018). The prevalence of falling increased from 8.7% in 40-44 year olds to 29.9% in 60-64 year old women, while increasing with men from 14.7% in 45-49 years and 15.7% in 60-64 year olds (Peeters et al., 2018).
Fig 1: Prevalence of falls per 5-year age band in middle-aged women (left) and men (right). Presented are the prevalence of falls per 5-year age bands based on the harmonised data across the four cohorts, and the number of participants providing data in each 5-year age band. Note that ALSWH and NSHD participants could be included more than once if they provided data at multiple data collection waves while still falling within the defined age bands.
IMPROVING YOUR BALANCE
With such alarming data, here are 3 exercises you can do at home to help improve strength, balance & coordination.
1. STANDING ON ONE LEG - EYES CLOSED
Can you stand on one leg? Could you hold for 30 seconds? If you can, try with your eyes closed. Make sure you have a wall nearby, focus on engaging your core and curling your toes into the ground. This can be quite tricky at first so if you are struggling, use a stick or something for support. Aim for at least 30s holds twice a day to start with.
This is a great exercise for challenging your balance and coordination. First start with feet hip width apart, if you are moving to the left:
- Lift right foot.
- Cross right foot in front of left foot.
- Lift left foot.
- Bring your left foot around the back of your right foot.
- Bring down your left foot to hip-width neutral stance and repeat.
3. SIT TO STAND
If you sit at your desk, you know the importance of moving and not staying still for too long. Simply standing up throughout the day can make a big difference. Try to do this during your breaks and aim for 10-15 reps. If you want a challenge try standing up on one leg.
This is a great way to increase strength and train balance at the same time. If you have a deep chair, you can use cushions or books to help make the squat more shallow. Aim for 6 reps and work up to 10 when you have a break from work or whatever activity you are doing while sitting. Try and use a normal chair if possible, but if not, use something to stop the chair from moving backwards.
Walker, S., 2020. [online] Available at:
Peeters, G., van Schoor, N., Cooper, R., Tooth, L. and Kenny, R., 2018. Should prevention of falls start earlier? Co-ordinated analyses of harmonised data on falls in middle-aged adults across four population-based cohort studies. PLOS ONE, 13(8), p.e0201989.
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