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September 2019

Prevent Falls with Mindful Movement

One in 4 adults ages 65 and older will suffer a fall this year. About one-fifth of those falls will cause serious harm, such as a broken bone or head injury. Being mindful about how you move can help you prevent becoming a statistic.

Three people doing tai chi outdoors

Mindfulness means giving your full attention to whatever you’re experiencing here and now in an open, accepting way. When you walk mindfully, you’re more in tune to how your body moves and the sensations you feel. That may sometimes make the difference between staying safely on your feet and taking a nasty tumble.

Start with an easy move

You can learn how to practice mindfulness. This exercise is a good starting place:

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair and hold onto the back to steady yourself.

  2. Rock back and forth slowly, shifting your weight from one foot to the other. Focus your awareness on how different parts of your body feel as you move.

Practice mindful walking

Ready for a more complex activity? Step outside to practice walking mindfully:

  1. Walk slowly—you’re not in a hurry.

  2. Notice how your body feels as you walk. How do your feet feel as they press against the ground? Paying attention to your physical sensations helps you focus on the present moment.

  3. Notice the environment around you. What can you see and hear? Are there any potential fall hazards ahead, such as an uneven sidewalk?

  4. If your mind starts to wander, refocus on your feet taking one step after another. This helps guide your awareness back to your moment-to-moment experience.

You can also practice mindful movement by taking a tai chi class, either in person or by watching a video. Tai chi combines slow movements, breathing patterns, and mindfulness. It can help improve balance and reduce the risk of falling.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2019
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