Improve Strength, Balance and Fitness to Reduce Chance of Falling

Fitness instructor Barbara Scott leads a Stay Active and
Independent for Life class at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center.
Photo credit: Chantelle Lusebrink and Issaquah

Falls among older adults are the leading cause of injury hospitalization in Washington state and the U.S. Exercise that improves strength, balance, and fitness is the single most important activity that adults can do to stay active and independent and to reduce the chances of having a fall.

Many falls in adults 65 and older are caused by gradual physical changes in muscle strength, balance, vision, and walking ability due to aging, along with health changes related to chronic health conditions and medication side effects and interactions.

Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) is a strength, balance and fitness class for adults 65 and older. SAIL exercises are intended for SAIL participants who want to exercise at home after they learn how to do the exercises in class. The SAIL exercises can help improve strength, balance, and fitness if done regularly, at least two times per week.

SAIL classes for instructors are taught several times throughout the state. The next instructor class will be held in September. For class information, see Leader Training for SAIL: Stay Active and Independent for Life. Classes for instructors are also available through the Pierce College e-Learning program. Trained instructors then teach SAIL exercise classes in local communities.

It is important that you consult with your health care provider if you have any health concerns related to exercise.


Four Things You Can Do to Prevent Falls

  1. Begin a regular exercise program.
  2. Make your home safer.
  3. Have your health care provider review your medicines.
  4. Have your vision checked. 


—Mary Borges, Washington State Department of Health