Will Exercising Make Me Fall?
The fear of falling causes falls. How many times have you stopped yourself from being part of an exercise program because of the fear of falling? Many older adults fear falls, especially since it is significantly harder to recover as you age. According to a study by Asai Tsuyoshi (2022), the fear of falling influences physical activity participation. Dr. Doug. Weiss DPT shared that he has had many healthy seniors tell him that although they have not experienced any falling, they are fearful that it will one day happen to them. Exercising is a non-negotiable. It enables you to be aerobically fitter, and stronger. An extreme fear of falling can cause you to quit walking or participating in normal daily tasks such as cooking and grocery shopping.
Let’s take for example Ellen, who has a fear of falling. She is a healthy 69-year-old woman. She chooses not to walk at all unless her son or daughter comes to take her outside. She lives alone and is very isolated. She does not leave her home. She suffers from social anxiety and depression. She feels so paranoid and has refused to even go outside to get the mail.
Do you think Ellen would want to participate in any individual or group physical activity with a fitness trainer? The answer is no.
As you can imagine, the avoidance of physical activities can lead anyone to become weaker and more likely to fall. And in fact, you could fall more. But you are likely to fall because you have been avoiding engaging in any physical activity. After all, you are afraid of falling.
Fear of falling causes you to choose the wrong balance strategy. Studies have shown that someone who has a very high fear of falling will walk stiffly, with the legs further out to the side to increase their base of support. Also, when you are walking on uneven ground you will utilize strategies that lead to falling. If you have ever gone hiking or been in a situation where you could fall, you are going to bend your knees more to be closer to the ground, you are going to spread your legs apart to have a wider base of support. And if there is something to grab unto, you will grab unto it. The problem is that all of those behaviors: walking with your knees too bent, walking with the feet out to the side, not lifting your feet as much, and grabbing for things, all cause falls. These bad strategies increase your fall risks.
Why do people allow the fear of falling to cripple them?
There is a concept in psychology called psychological inflexibility. This means that in a lot of situations, people develop the idea that they need to do certain behaviors, even though they are incorrect. They hope that it will help them to achieve the goals they are trying to reach. And the more they are told to avoid those actions, like do not be afraid of falling, the worse it gets. Psychological inflexibility applies to a lot of different behaviors. This fear can be crippling and can keep you from doing all that you want to do.
How do you fix the fear of falling?
Psychological counseling can help. And there are proofs of its effectiveness. But one thing that helps is rebuilding your confidence by engaging in challenging activities that you are able to overcome. And once you have overcome enough challenges, the psychological fear of falling decreases. And you can be able to resume physical activities again.
It is equally important that you exercise with a knowledgeable fitness trainer if you plan to participate in an exercise program. Exercise done properly does not lead to falls. If you need to hire a fitness trainer, you can reach me at 263-880-7155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.