When physical activity prevents falls among elderly people : A study by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM)
Falls are a frequent occurrence which can have multiple and serious consequences among the elderly. In France, falls represented 90% of domestic accidents among people over 75 years in 2009. Most of the time, the consequences of falls are a temporary or permanent loss of autonomy and physical trauma. They are responsible for loss of confidence, which can lead to restriction of activities. In addition, falls also induce public costs when general practitioner or hospital treatment is needed.
In this context, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research has analysed the effects of exercise on fall prevention. The study found that the risk of falling and being seriously injured decreases among elderly people practicing Tai Chi or equilibrium and muscle building exercises. The most efficient exercises are those focusing on balance, which can reduce the risk of falling for people over 75 years by 25%. These exercises also help to improve reflexes when falling, such as placing your hands in front of yourself.
In addition, seniors who spend time doing physical activity have a better perception of their general health, their vitality and their mental and physical condition. Physical activity not only prevents falls, but also improves and maintains their mobility, functional ability, social life and quality of life.
By Marie Grillet