Have you or someone you know ever had a fall? It can be a scary experience. While slips and falls can happen to anyone, there are strategies you can put in place to lower your risk of injury producing falls. Falls are more common and more impacting as we age. Approximately one third of people aged 65 years or older fall more than one time a year (Don’t Fall For It, Australian Government). Many of these falls require hospitalization and/or medical attention. Reducing risk of falls and the subsequent medical complications, is important as we age. Through incorporating the Country Kitchens key messages into our daily lives, notably sitting less and moving more and eating a variety of healthy foods as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines, you will lower your risk of falls. The benefits of being physically active include: improved balance and falls prevention, improved bone strength, strengthened muscles and helping to keep lifestyle associated diseases at bay.
So, what is physical activity and how much is enough?
- Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.
- This includes everyday activities (e.g. walking to the shop, gardening) and organised activity (e.g. exercise classes)
- You can prevent falls by trying some balancing exercise each day (e.g. stand on one foot, heel raises, walking heel to toe)
- Accumulate at least 30 min of moderate activity on most, preferably all days (e.g. brisk walking, recreational cycling, gardening, swimming)
- Remember to Sit Less, Move More every day!
Poor nutrition may increase the likelihood of a fall which includes: not eating a balanced diet, not eating enough food and not drinking enough water. This can result in reduced strength and inability to move safely and achieve everyday activities. Eating a variety of nutritious foods is an important factor that contributes to living a healthy life.
How can you make sure you are eating healthy?
- Incorporate more fruit and vegetables into each meal and aim for 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit. Only 8.50% of Australians 75 years and over are getting enough fruit and vegetables!
- Colourful vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre
- That’s 5 cups of lettuce leaves, or 2.5 cups of cooked veg, or 2.5 cups of beans and lentils – each and every day.
- A serve of fruit may be, 1 banana, 1 apple, 2 apricots or 1 cup of canned fruit (no added sugar).
- Visit eatforhealth.gov.au for more information on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the 5 food groups.
- Limit discretionary (sometimes) food as these are high in saturated fats, and/or sugars, added salt and are low in nutrients such as fibre.
- Visit http://www.qcwa.org.au/countrykitchens/recipes/ for healthy recipe ideas.
What to remember:
- Visit your doctor if you have a fall as this may be a sign of balance problems, muscle weakness, a new medical issue or possibly a combination.
- Try to stay as active as possible
- Eat a variety of healthy foods from the five food groups, especially increasing vegetable intake
- Avoid alcohol and packaged foods.
- Be aware of sugar in your drinks and always choose water for hydration
- Cook at Home: this makes you in control of what goes into your meals, so you don’t over-consume foods high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt
- Check your portion size: check your hunger cues and only eat until satisfied, not eating until fullness.
Department of Health and Ageing 2011