EDITOR’S NOTE: Anytime Fitness is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Keep updated on its Facebook page or at www.anytimefitness.com

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Falls are a major threat to the health and independence of older adults.

“Each year, one in three older adults aged 60 and older experience a fall, and people who fall once are more likely to fall again,” said Cindy Paustian, an instructor for Anytime Fitness, 3721 W. 13th St., in Grand Island.

Paustian will instruct a new comprehensive balance, mobility and fall prevention class at Anytime Fitness.

A certified health educator, certified Silver Sneakers instructor and senior fitness program instructor, Paustian said the class is designed to decrease age-related balancing problems, increase overall muscle strength, increase flexibility, range-of-motion, and experience an improved quality of life.

“The class is designed for anyone who wants a multi-component fall prevention class designed to improve overall functional fitness and to understand fall risk factors,” she said.

Those factors include medication interactions, chronic conditions, muscle weakness and vision loss.

Paustian said that falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries among older adults. She said 1 out of 10 falls cause serious injuries, such as a hip fracture or head injury, which requires hospitalization.

In addition to the physical and emotional pain, Paustian said many people need to spend at least a year recovering in a long-term facility.

“Clinical research, along with a staggering number of falls resulting in serious injury or even death, has proven that balance, mobility and fall prevention classes sufficiency reduce chances of falling,” she said.

Statistics from the National Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services report one-fourth of all Americans ages 5 and older fall at least once in their lifetimes.

In 2018, falls resulted in more than 3 million serious injuries, 850,000 hospitalizations and 29,000 deaths.

She said participants of the class would complete a Fall risk assessment before starting the course, understand the principles of appropriate balancing exercises, defining short and long-range goals and identify and/or modifying individual skill competency.

The class was supposed to start April 14 and meet from 12:15 to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. However the starting date may be pushed back because of COVID-19 precautions.

Paustian said people are living older and falls will increase unless a serious commitment to providing effective fall prevention programs.

“These fall prevention programs will reduce falls in older adults and help their health, wellness, and independence,” said she said.

Rebecca Tidwell, general manager of Anytime Fitness in Grand Island, said the health club is geared to people of all ages.

“We are geared toward everybody and we want to accommodate everybody,” she said.

That is one of the reasons for starting the balance, mobility and fall prevention classes.

With people sequestered in their homes, especially the elderly, because of the coronavirus, that need for balance, mobility and preventing falls becomes important. That same philosophy applies also as people live longer and stay in their homes longer.

According to a study published in the Journal for the Royal Society of Medicine, one-third of people over 65 will fall at least once a year. Most falls occur on flat areas as falls on the stairs or in the bathroom are relatively rare. Of those who fall and lie on the floor for hours, half will be dead within six months according to the study.

The study also found the risk of falls is double in people with dementia. There is also an increased risk with depression. The more drugs an elderly person takes, the greater the risk of falls. Visual impairment is an important risk factor. Wearing the wrong kind of footwear, such as loose slippers, is also a factor.

It is that greater sense of wellness in people’s everyday life that’s behind classes such as the balance, mobility and preventing falls classes.

The club is also offering another senior fitness program, “Powerup N’ Tone Up,” a Silver Sneakers multipurpose exercise program, from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“Our philosophy is let make healthy happen,” Tidwell said. “That is why we are bringing these classes in. We just don’t want people just to come to our facility and then leave. We want them to have a sense of community and belonging to our facility. We want our members to invest in themselves and commit to feel fit.

For more information, call (308) 382-4700, or check Facebook and online.

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