When asked what may have caused a recent fall, many older adults will cite reasons such as uneven flooring, unsafe footwear that they were simply not paying attention.
While some might acknowledge that their balance may not be what it once was, many do not mention poor leg strength as a possible contributing factor to falls.
The Strengthen Your Legs campaign aims to change that by encouraging older adults to recognise the importance of having strong legs and provides them with tips and strategies to improve their leg strength to help prevent falls.
As health and community care professionals, you witness the role leg strength plays in the everyday lives of older adults. The ability to perform day-to-day activities, such as household chores or even just transferring from a chair or bed to the floor, are greatly impacted by your muscle strength. Consequently poor leg strength can significantly impact on and individual’s quality of life, their level of independence and risk of falling.
Many older people believe that the muscle weakness experienced with age is simply unavoidable and a natural result of the ageing process. However the strength and size of muscles doesn’t have to decline with each passing year. Maintaining and even increasing leg strength is possible with regular participation in challenging and progressive resistance based exercise.
The Strengthen Your Legs campaign will be running from September 1 to November 30, 2016.
Stay On Your Feet® Seniors Olympics
The importance of leg strength in maintaining a healthy, independent lifestyle and preventing falls provides the foundation for the recently launched Strengthen Your Legs campaign from WA’s community falls prevention program, Stay On Your Feet®. The campaign launch was celebrated with a Seniors Olympics, an event that embodied the campaign theme by encouraging older adults to have-a-go at various Olympic-themed strength and balance activities.
Over 120 community members and health care professionals joined the Stay On Your Feet® team at the Belmont Oasis Leisure Centre to enjoy a fun-filled morning of games, learning, and chatting (and of course morning tea!). Stall holders from organisations across the community also attended to provide guests with useful information about services and activities in their local area.
The day kicked off with a tai chi demonstration lead by Perth Tai Chi Academy founder Sam Sujatna. Plenty of people, many of which had never practiced tai chi before, got involved and it was a pleasure to watch the group move as one through the sequence of postures. Tai chi is a safe and effective strength and balance activity that a wide range of people can participate in and enjoy. Hopefully a few people were inspired to find a tai chi class in their local area, to learn the movements for the first time, or perhaps return to regular practice.
The formalities commenced at 10.30am with some light-hearted humour from the Master of Ceremonies, Perth’s very own media personality, Jenny Seaton, before guests were Welcomed to Country by respected Aboriginal man Shaun Nannup. Taking time out of her busy schedule at Curtin University, Associate Professor Anne-Marie Hill briefly discussed the importance of leg strength in maintaining a healthy, independent lifestyle and preventing falls. The Injury Control Council of WA’s Emily Anderson provided the audience of community members, health care professionals and carers with information about the campaign, its key messages and how they can continue to get involved during the course of the campaign.
Following the speeches, everyone was off their seats again to enjoy a very energetic demonstration from the Belmont Leisure Centre’s Prime Movers group. This fast-paced, choreographed, aerobics-style class is extremely popular in WA, with about 5000 men and women participating in classes all over the Perth metropolitan area. Each class consists of five sections; warm-up, stretching, cardiovascular, muscle strength and endurance and cool down, all set to some great tunes!
For those not as light on their feet, the Curtin Stadium Active Seniors class provided an opportunity for guests to participate in seated strength, balance and mobility exercises. These exercise classes are facilitated by qualified health and fitness professionals and are specifically designed for those over 50 years who would like to improve their muscle strength as well as the many other benefits that increased physical activity bring.
As the Seniors Olympics drew to a close there was still time for a few more rounds of putt-putt mini golf, ten-pin bowling and quoits, the drawing of raffle winners, and a final cup of tea and a sandwich before heading home. Stay On Your Feet® would like to thank all of those who came along and participated in the games and activities. We hope to have inspired you to take the first steps to Strengthen Your Legs to prevent slips, trips and falls.