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Yoga As a Fall Prevention Strategy

May 21, 2024 | Your Health

It’s an unfortunate fact, but falls in older adults can lead to a number of undesirable after effects. Individuals who suffer a fall often experience diminished quality of life. Some may ultimately succumb to injuries inflicted by a fall.

Paul Mross has been part of a number of research projects surrounding yoga’s impact on fall prevention. Here, he shares important information about falls and how people can implement tactics to ensure they remain safe and healthy.

Impact of Falls on Quality of Life

One part of Mross’ research has been to track people’s fear of falling once they’ve experienced a previous fall. “If they’ve fallen once, they may then have a fear of falling again, and that may decrease their desire to go out into the community. Or, it may increase their concerns with doing activities that they normally might do, like walking or gardening, and so their quality of life can be decreased,” he states.

There is also a cost factor that relates to quality of life. A fall might mean time spent in a rehabilitation facility, which may incur extreme expenses. Individuals might avoid doing certain activities that could potentially lead to a fall, because they simply can’t afford to take that risk. For example, they might turn down social activities with friends due to such a concern.

And, falls might impact one’s transparency with family and friends. “One of the things we’ll see is people who have fallen often won’t report it to their family because they’re afraid of what that might lead to,” notes Mross. “Meaning, if they report to their family or report to their doctor that they have fallen or that they have a tendency to fall, they have this fear they might be put into an assisted living facility or taken away from their home.”

Why Yoga Is an Effective Approach

Mross has completed five different research projects with the University of Madison, all focused on yoga for fall prevention and also how falls relate to social isolation. He has been a teacher of yoga for 25 years and has been practicing yoga for over 30 years. From personal experience, and through his research, Mross understands just how helpful yoga can be.

“I really see the impact yoga can have on allowing individuals to feel comfortable in their body to begin with, and then understanding what they can do from a health standpoint, utilizing yoga to mitigate fall risk,” he shares.

Yoga works to improve balance, build strength, and promote a proper gait. Moreover, engaging in a yoga class fosters social connection—something Mross believes is equally important in maintaining quality of life.

Start Now for Future Success

While older adults are more at risk for falling, Mross urges individuals to engage in fall prevention strategies long before they reach their senior years. He recognizes that at his age of 58, yoga can set him up for success later in life. Mross explains doing yoga in one’s younger years builds an important “muscle memory.”

“It’s about creating those habits now so that when I do turn 80, I can rely on them. I think it’s really important that people not look at falls as something that happens only to older adults. It’s something that happens to all of us. So, we have to think about it now and how we can prevent falls and work to create balance, strength, and gait.”

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