Workout of the Week: Preventing Falls

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Falls are the leading cause of injury death in the United States and one in three Americans will suffer one this year.  They can also cause moderate to severe injuries, like head trauma and hip fractures.  Fortunately, falls can be prevented.

Personal trainer, Alan Bernard, founder of Active Aging Fitness says being in good shape can prevent a fall or limit the injury if you do take a tumble.  He recommends strength, stability and mobility exercises.

“Because they’re all involved in how we ambulate and how we move and can prevent tripping and falling."

We start by swinging our leg to the front and sides.  This will increase mobility and flexibility.  Hang on to a chair or sofa if you're concerned you'll lose your balance.  We progress to one-legged, standing leg curls, which will also improve your balance.  Squats will strengthen your gluteal, hamstring and quadricep muscles.

But don't stop there.  Bernard says strengthening the upper body is just as important.

"Because if you do fall you have to catch yourself."

Push-ups strengthen the upper body and the core.  Start with a one arm push-up off the wall and progress to pushing yourself off the wall, a bar or even a sofa.  When you're ready, move to an incline push-up or a standard plank push-up.

Weight training, like bicep curls and triceps extensions, will also build bone density.  So, if you do fall, you're less likely to break a bone.  It's especially important for post-menopausal women, who can lose up to 40-percent of their bone density by the age of 65.  The good news:  You can reverse the process.

"Women in their 80's can regain their strength and recoup a lot of that bone density loss if they begin a weight and resistance regimen."

It's a reminder, no matter what shape you're in, it's never too late for improvement.

Additional fall prevention tips:

- Place bars and handles in your bathtub

- Clear home of debris and clutter, which are tripping hazards

- Ask your doctor if your medications are appropriate