With the further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, older Australians in Western NSW Local Health District are encouraged to get physically and socially active as part of an April Falls Day campaign to reduce the incidence of falls in older age groups.
Safe Activity for Everybody is the theme of April Falls Day, Thursday April 1 2021.
NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network Lead Advisor Prof Cathie Sherrington said she hoped 2021 would be the year of safe activity for everybody with the campaign focused on encouraging older Australians to get moving again by embracing balance and strength exercises and reconnecting with their community.
Professor Sherrington said there was some anecdotal evidence that older people had been leading a more sedentary and isolated lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Staying physically active is the single most important thing we can do to stay independent as we age. During ageing, our bodies lose muscle strength and coordination, so the more active we remain the better chance we have of maintaining our physical function.
“Improving strength and balance in our legs allows us to complete regular daily activities more easily, including getting up and down stairs, in and out of cars, negotiating uneven surfaces and reducing the risk of falling.
“Older people benefit from regular tai chi, group exercise programs, gym sessions, Stepping On programs or simple exercises at home to improve muscle strength and balance.
“Research has also shown that regular exercise can reduce falls in older people by 23 per cent, but slowly building up high-challenge balance exercises can increase the effects of exercise by up to 40 per cent."
High-challenge balance exercises include those that reduce the base of support – for instance, not holding on to a chair or bench and lifting one leg at a time.
The NSW Fall Prevention Program is run by the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) and this year the CEC collaborated with the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network to produce a range of April Falls resources for patients, families, carers and health staff.
Fall Prevention information is also on the Clinical Excellence Commission website and local balance and strength exercises classes on the NSW Active and Healthy website.