Harvard Women's Health Watch

Why do women fall?

It's well known that women fall more often than men, but why is that so? A team of Canadian researchers tackled that question by looking for factors that tend to put women at higher risk than men for spills.

The researchers studied around 15,000 adults ages 65 and older who were enrolled in the Canadian Community Health Survey–Healthy Aging. All the participants were asked if they had suffered a fall serious enough to limit their normal activity. People who answered "yes" were then queried about their lifestyles and medical histories. When the researchers analyzed the answers, they determined that stroke, arthritis, and poor nutrition increased the risk of falls in both men and women. However, different risk factors were linked to falls for women, including being 85 or older, having at least one alcoholic drink a week, taking five or more medications, and having diabetes or osteoporosis. The findings were reported online Feb. 19, 2015, by the American Journal of Epidemiology.

If you have any of these risk factors, you may want to take extra measures to avoid falls. Getting regular exercise is the best thing you can do. The researchers found that physical activity was the one factor that offered some protection against falls.

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