For the first time since 2001, the American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatrics Society have updated their guidelines for preventing falls in older people. The update includes two notable changes: One recommends tai chi — the meditative, slow-motion Chinese exercise — as an effective way to prevent falls, while another suggests that doctors review medication use by all elderly patients, with an eye toward reducing use of those drugs that increase the risk of falling.
A sturdy chair with armrests and athletic shoes with non-skid soles are all you need for these simple strength building exercises.
Sit slightly forward in a chair with your hands on the armrests. Your feet should be flat on the floor and slightly apart, and your upper body should be upright (don’t lean forward). Using your arms for balance only, slowly raise your buttocks off the chair until nearly standing with your knees bent. Pause. Slowly sit back down. Aim for 8–12 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set.
Put a chair with armrests up against a wall. Sit in the chair and put your feet together flat on the floor. Lean forward a bit while keeping your shoulders and back straight. Bend your elbows and place your hands on the armrests of the chair, so they are in line with your torso. Pressing downward on your hands, try to lift yourself up a few inches by straightening out your arms. Raise your upper body and thighs, but keep your feet in contact with the floor. Pause. Slowly release until you’re sitting back down again. Aim for 8–12 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set.
Standing calf raise
Stand with your feet flat on the floor. Hold onto the back of your chair for balance. Raise yourself up on tiptoe, as high as possible. Hold briefly, then lower yourself. Aim for 8–12 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set.