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Derbyshire walkers warm up to prevent falls

Published: 12 February 2020

Derbyshire Walking for Health enthusiasts will be starting their walks with a very special warm-up routine next Thursday, 20 February, in Matlock.

The group are among the first in the country to start their weekly Walking for Health with special exercises which help them warm up and reduce their risk of falling.

The new initiative is part of our ‘Live Stronger For Longer’ falls prevention campaign which has been developed in partnership with local communities and services.   

Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said:

“Falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. There’s lots that we can all do to help prevent them.

“That’s why this campaign is so important as it highlights lots of ways to avoid preventable falls and I am delighted to be supporting it.”

Walking for Health group leaders will be trained up by Strictly No Falling instructors on how to deliver special warm-up exercises to help prevent falls and improve mobility.

They’ll carry these out before each walk to make sure that people are safely warmed up but also to help build strength and balance which in turn will help people stay independent for longer.

Cabinet Member for Adult Care, Councillor Jean Wharmby added:

“Falls can seriously impact on people’s confidence and quality of life so anything that we can do to help prevent them is important.

“The new campaign gives lots of simple, easy messages and practical tips to help people reduce their risks.”

Falls are one of the largest causes of emergency hospital admission for older adults in the county. 

It’s estimated that in Derbyshire,

  • people aged over 65 years have a 30% risk of falling at least once a year
  • around 70,100 people aged over 65 fall every year, resulting in 11,000 ambulance call outs and 6,000 hospital admissions
  • 4,500 of these falls lead to injury

The message from local Public Health experts is that we can reduce our risk of falling with simple steps and support from local services where needed.

Helen Milton, Walking for Health Coordinator at Derbyshire Dales District Council said:

“We all know how beneficial activity is for both our physical health and mental wellbeing and that Walking for Health is a fantastic way of achieving that.

“What is less well known are the benefits of keeping our muscles strong and our balance receptors switched on.

“Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could spread the word about how to do this through our Walking for Health network and keep more people living Stronger for Longer.”

Keeping active will improve your balance and reduce the risk of falls. Simple ways to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls include:

  • Do gentle exercises to improve your balance and co-ordination.
  • A brisk walk or gentle fitness classes, like tai-chi or dancing will help.
  • Other activities that improve balance include, pilates, yoga and bowling.
  • Have regular check-ups on eyes and medicines. Remove all trip hazards and wear sturdy footwear with good grips.

The ‘Live Stronger For Longer’ campaign addresses the impact of falls among older people, raises awareness of falls prevention and promotes a healthy, happy, ageing lifestyle.

The campaign will offer small grants to community groups and services who do not usually engage with falls related activities. 

The aim is to encourage these groups to run campaigns and fun activities to reach more people. 

A range of publicity will be shared to encourage people to speak to a health professional, get more active using our lifestyle services, or take part in Age UK Derby and Derbyshire’s Strictly No Falling activities. 

Other plans include working with luncheon clubs, organising dog walks, and reaching isolated older people through local services.

The Matlock Walk For Health event starts at 10am on Thursday 20 February at the Bandstand in Hall Leys Park, Matlock, DE4 3AR

The Walk for Health group, Derbyshire County Council Elected Members, and Derbyshire County Council Public Health Specialists will be showcasing their falls prevention exercises and talking about the launch of the falls prevention campaign.