February 24, 2018 — Everybody knows swimming is good for you, but who would have thought it might actually help reduce falls. Swimming, according to research from the National Institutes of Health, can also improve cognitive ability, lower blood pressure and enhance hand-eye coordination. Beyond swimming, there are a lot of other things you can do to reduce falls too.
NextAvenue.com reported on A 2014 University of Western Sydney study of 1,667 Australian men age 70 and older showed that swimmers had “significantly lower risks of falling,”. The research showed that participants who swam had 33% fewer falling incidents than those in the group that included runners and golfers. Researchers also found that swimmers had better posture and swayed less.
You can swim on your own if you are used to it and self-motivated. Or you can look for programs at your YMCA or town pool. Sometimes a group situation is the best way to not only learn how or to swim better, but also to make it part of a regular program.
More ways to prevent falls
According to the NIH, more than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year. More than 1.6 million of those folks have to go the emergency room. The NIH says can do a lot to prevent falls, principally:
– Stay physically active.
– Have your eyes and hearing tested.
– Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take.
– Get enough sleep.
– Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
– Stand up slowly.
– Use an assistive device if you need help feeling steady when you walk.
– Be very careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces.
– Wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet.
Try these techniques too
Swimming isn’t the only thing you can do to help prevent falling and getting hurt:
Learn how to fall. This WikiHow article has some good tips for learning how to fall so you minimize your chances of getting hurt. If that article seems a little too young for you, check out this one from the NYTimes, which details how the Dutch are teaching their senior citizens to navigate hazards and fall safely.
Improve your balance. Look for an exercise class or trainer that works on balance. You can improve your balance and reduce the chances of falling, if you work at it.
Comments? Are you a swimmer? Do you have any tips to help other folks get started on a regular swimming program? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.