I was thrilled to see a recent article in the Globe and Mail on the topic of falling. Not the leaves, our bodies. While the focus of the article was mainly on the cost that falls have on our health care system (estimated at $2.2 billion in surgeries, hospitalizations, rehab and other expenses) I see this as a fantastic reminder that we can do something to eliminate or reduce the amount of times we fall.
As you know, strength training is not just for body builders, it’s for anyone looking to develop muscle, burn fat and improve their balance. So why then do so many people think that they can’t include some form of strength training into their workouts? It may be because they haven’t been taught proper technique and are afraid of injury. While it’s a mistake to skip the weights for many reasons but let’s focus on balance. The most common types of injuries sustained after a fall are hip, spine and wrist fractures. This is because people lose their balance in some way and don’t have the strength to either avoid the fall or to land properly. Adding balance exercises combined with strength training will build muscle and improve your overall body awareness within an environment. If you haven’t already added weights or body weight exercises into your workouts try joining a gym or studio that offer classes or download an app that has demos to follow along with.
Here are some guidelines to follow to incorporate strength training into your workout. I guarantee this will help prevent falls altogether or at a minimum, help you to recover faster.
Strength Training – using free weights, plates or body weight
Beginner – someone who is new to strength training
Intermediate – has been doing strength training for min of six months
Advanced – has been doing strength training for over one year
Frequency (number of times to workout)
2-3x week – beginner
3-4x week – intermediate
4-6x week – advanced
Sets (number of times to do a specific series of exercises)
1-3 – beginner
1-4 – intermediate
1-6 – advanced
Reps (number of times to do one exercise)
12-15 – beginner (start with lighter weights)
8-12 – intermediate (add heavier weights)
1-8 – advanced (max weight)