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Optimizing Health and Fitness

Rate of falls are expected to rise

The rate of falls are expected to rise due to the impact of interrupted exercise and/or interrupted care as the result of the Corona virus, the Covid-19 Stay-at-Home order, and physical isolation.


If you have been involved with balance training before, and the Corona virus forced you to stay home with classes and treatment sessions cancelled, the effects of your training most probably has disappeared unless you continued your exercises. The effects of balance training can disappear in about 2 months. The body adapts to not training, if you sit in a chair a lot, your body will adapt to sitting and gradually lose its ability to balance. The consequence of poor balance are falls. You are more prone to falls depending on your health and fitness status, the activity you perform and the environment in which it is performed.

Falling down is an accident, but it is no accident that it happens

There are over 21 risk factors for falling says Dr. Katharine Forth an expert in postural stability and motor control and therefor balance training must be personalized to the individual. Dr. Forth conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at NASA and has created award-winning balance training programs for older adults. She states that a general exercise program has also not been shown to prove sufficient benefits in balance, and daily practice of standing on one leg makes you good in standing on one leg but may not be benefitting your balance or your specific balance impairment.


Older adults who have fallen often experience decreased mobility, loss of independence, and fear of falling, which all predispose them to future falls. Falls with or without injury, near falls from a trip, stumble, graze, or slip often leads to more cautious movements, limiting physical activity and more sedentary behavior due to a fear of falling again. Falls are the #1 reason for trauma death and trauma injury and are the main reason why older adults lose their independence.

Many older adults have multiple fall risk factors (e.g., limited mobility, medications that increase fall risk, poor vision, home hazards, etc.), require multiple interventions, and close follow-up over a period of time to reduce their fall risk. If you survived Covid-19, was admitted to the hospital and the ICU multiple body systems were probably effected and in this case in-home physical therapy may be possibly be your best choice initially restoring function including your balance.


Older adults are at an increased risk of falling after a hospital stay, illness or bedrest, a new medication, dehydration, a bad night sleep, or too much sitting or lying down.

Getting a new blood pressure medication affect balance, it takes about two to three weeks for the body to get used to the new medication and during that time you ate increased fall risk.

One in every four older adults 65 years and older falls annually and one in every two older adults over the age of 80 falls annually.


The good news is falls are NOT a normal part of aging and we already know that up  to 42% of falls can be prevented by a well-designed exercise program. You reduce the

opportunity to fall by increasing your physical state or functional fitness so that you become more resilient, more likely to cope and withstand the opportunity to fall.

To address falls, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a fall prevention initiative called Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) that encourages clinical fall prevention. The STEADI initiative helps healthcare providers develop a standardized process for screening clients and patients for fall risk, which has been adopted by Fitness & Function by assessing the at-risk client/patient’s modifiable risk factors, and intervening to reduce the identified risk using effective risk factor-specific interventions.


Fitness & Function has incorporated fall prevention in personal training and private physical therapy services to reduce falls and prevent injuries among our community living older adult clients as well as clients residing in retirement or long-term care settings. Reducing falls among our older adults clients requires commitment from our health/fitness professionals.

We continue to educate ourselves to make sure clients receive exercises that are science based, have been proven to provide benefits and many are award-winning programs and some are even endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control(CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority. Our health and fitness professionals received certifications in the award-winning program FallProof Balance and Mobility Specialist, Award-winning Zibrio Balance Specialist Program, Stepping On, Stay Well At Home, Otago, Tai Chi-Movement for Better Balance, and Delay the Disease #1 Parkinson’s Exercise Program.


To be successful and sustainable, fall prevention interventions should align with both healthcare and fitness guidelines. Before a balance exercise can be given we need to know the client’s balance level and the training challenge layers that we can apply.

New clients 65 years and older are asked to complete a Fall Risk Questionnaire. When a client is at increased risk for falling or has a history of falls, a Fall Risk Screen will be conducted, a balance and mobility assessments will be performed, baseline vital signs taken, and a functional fitness test performed.


We address the modifiable risk factors using effective strategies. A balance training program takes into consideration:

  • Client goal - to devise a program that matches up with that goal

  • Determine current physical state - strength, core strength, posture and alignment, injury or physical limitations, sensory capabilities, general mobility and balance.

  • Define strength program and base movements based on weaknesses discovered

  • Determine client balance level and ability and what training strategies to apply

We talk with the older client about the fall risk and strategies to a personalized fall prevention plan/injury protection plan that specifically focusses on the balance impairment and weaknesses.


If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Reassessments are recommended every three to six months to make adaptations to the fall intervention and exercise program, to track changes over time, and to determine if referral to health care provider is needed. 

Older adults currently not at increased fall risk are recommended to be screened once or twice a year as long they participate regularly in exercise or when health status and/or activity level changes. 


Fitness & Function’s health fitness professionals have insider information and training skills based on solid science on how you can stay strong on your feet with coordinated fall-intervention programs and in-home balance training services.

We follow the recommendations of your health care provider.

Science shows that you are never too old to improve in strength, flexibility and balance, even at the advanced age of 90 and older.

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