If your hip or knee arthritis makes you feel unsteady and worry that you’ll fall, your instinct probably is to avoid risks. You might not feel confident walking far or doing much physical activity. But to become steadier and reduce your risk of falling, you have to overcome those worries and be more active – safely.
A 2013 study in BMJ shows that moving more may protect against tumbles and injury. Researchers found that among 4,305 older adults, those who exercised regularly were 37 percent less likely to be injured from a fall than their sedentary counterparts.
Physical activity improves balance, cognitive function, reaction time and range of motion. You’ll be more likely to catch yourself and less likely to take a tumble if you do lose your balance. This is particularly important for those with arthritis, says Brian Housle, an exercise physiologist and fitness director at Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C. “If you have a limited range of motion in your knees or hips, you aren’t able to lift your feet as high, which makes you more apt to trip,” he says.
Stay active, and do at least one of these types of exercise to protect against falls.
TAI CHI: This gentle martial art can improve balance and coordination. In fact, a 2005 study in the Journals of Gerontology showed that people took half as many spills after practicing tai chi for six months as people who only did stretches.
BALANCE EXERCISES: Standing with your feet close together or on one leg can improve your strength and stamina, which will help your balance.
YOGA: Like balance exercises, yoga can build your strength, flexibility and stamina and help you relax while maintaining your balance.
STRENGTH TRAINING: Working major muscle groups with weights or resistance bands builds muscle, boosts bone health and helps support joints, lowering the risk of falls and injury.
- Fall Prevention Guidelines
- Osteoarthritis and Falls
- Balance Exercises for Arthritis
- Yoga Benefits for Arthritis