There are a number of exercise classes in the community designed for older adults that meet the guidelines for physical activity in the prevention of falls. The Find an Exercise Class search tool will help you find a program that is close to you, but here are some tips to help you choose the best program for you.

Choose balance exercises

Exercises that challenge balance should be the focus of an exercise program to prevent falls. It is recommended that classes spend at least 40% of class time doing exercises that challenge balance and/or strength.

Whether you exercise at home or in a class, at least 2 hours per week of balance exercises is ideal, so the more time the program spends doing exercises for balance the better. Tai Chi is one type of exercise that challenges balance and is effective in reducing risk of falling

Ask about the instructor’s training

While exercise instructors are not required to have any training, we recommend that falls prevention exercise programs be run by trained professionals such as physiotherapists, kinesiologists and certified fitness leaders. Ask about the instructor’s training. It is also a good idea for the instructors to have First Aid and CPR training.

Safety first

Always consider safety when doing exercises that challenge your balance as there is a chance that you could become unstable. For exercises that involve standing in one spot, make sure you stand near a wall, chair or counter top so you can use your hands for support if needed.

Look for exercise options

Not everyone’s ability to balance is the same. An exercise that is appropriate for one person may be too easy or too difficult for another person. To make sure that the exercises are appropriate for all participants, the instructor can:

  • Individually assess the balance of each person and then select exercises that are appropriate for the person’s individual ability.
  • Assess the balance of the group to find the overall ability of the participants and then choose exercises that are appropriate for the group’s ability.
  • Provide options for how to do an exercise that will make the exercise more or less challenging. For example, the instructor may give you three different hand position options for an exercise: a) rest your hands on the back of a chair for support (the easiest); b) hover your hands over the back of the chair; or c) put your hands on your opposite shoulders (the most difficult). These options allow class participants to customize the exercise to their own abilities, which means that everyone in the class can be challenged appropriately. There are other ways to vary the difficulty of an exercise such as how close together your feet are positioned, whether you stand on one leg or two legs and how far you shift your body weight (how far you lean).

In some classes, such as Tai Chi, assessments are not performed and exercise options are not provided. You will likely have to try an exercise class like this to see if it is the appropriate level of difficulty for you.

Look at class size

Classes vary in size from a few people to 50-60 people per instructor. The more people in a class, the less time the instructor has to check that the exercises are appropriate for each person and that everybody is doing the exercises correctly. Participants in smaller classes get more one-on-one attention which often results in a more personalized exercise experience. As you may guess, classes with less people in them are often more expensive!

Make sure it is the right level for you

It is best to find a class that matches your health, ability, likes and dislikes. Some exercise programs are designed for everyone while others are specifically developed for people with medical conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis or other neurological problems. Most programs are appropriate for beginners and people with little exercise experience, but a few programs are more advanced. Ask what age and health concerns each class targets, what level of ability participants should have and if there is anyone the program is not appropriate for.

There are different types of exercise programs that challenge balance and are good for falls prevention. These include general aerobic and stregnth classes, Tai Chi, yoga, pilates and dance classes, such as Zumba and line dancing. There are also classes that are designed specifically to prevent falls. Choose the type of exercise that you like to do, but also consider:

  • Dance classes often require you to be able walk without use of an aid, stay on your feet for the whole class and be able to move around comfortably in a large group.
  • Many yoga and Pilates classes spend a lot of time in lying or seated positions so don’t challenge balance enough to prevent falls. The programs included in the inventory spend at least 40% of the class time doing standing exercises for balance and strength and are recommended to help you prevent a fall. If you have found a yoga or Pilates class elsewhere, ask the instructor how much of the class is spent doing standing exercises.
  • Walking is a great exercise for health and well-being, but it is not ideal for falls prevention. Exercise programs that include walking are less effective in preventing falls than those that do not include walking.
Let us help you find an exercise program that can help prevent you from falling.

This search tool helps older adults, friends, family members and healthcare professionals find an exercise program that meets the recommended guidelines for preventing falls.

To find an exercise program in your area, enter your postal code to get a map and list of exercise programs that are close to you. You can then select an exercise program to find out more information such as cost, target audience, skill level, facility access and other things that will help you choose the program that is right for you. You can also view the exercise programs alphabetically.

View Programs Alphabetically

The criteria that exercise programs had to meet to be included on this website was based research and consultation with the New South Wales Falls Prevention Network in Australia. Exercise programs were considered to be appropriate for falls prevention if they met the following criteria:
  1. The program includes standing exercises that challenge balance and/or strength by:
    • Narrowing base of support  – for example, standing with your feet together or one foot in front of the other
    • Decreasing hand support  – for example, using your hands less or not using your hands at all for balance
    • Moving the centre of mass – for example, leaning forward, backward or sideways, or moving your arms or legs
    • Performing multiple tasks – for example, doing other physical activities (such as throwing a ball) or other cognitive activities (such as saying the alphabet backwards) while maintaining balance
    • Moving your head – for example, turning your head to the side or up and down while sitting, standing or walking
    • Altering vision  – for example, closing your eyes or dimming the lights in the room
    • Altering surfaces – for example, standing on softer or less stable surfaces such as sand, a mat, a duradisc
    • Changing direction – for example  changing direction of walking on command
    • Navigating obstacles – for example, walking around, over, under or between obstacles or manoeuvring through a crowd of people
  2. At least 40% of class time is spent on the standing balance and strength exercises described in Criteria #1.
  3. The program is designed and supervised by a trained healthcare or exercise professional or instructor such as:
    • A physiotherapist
    • An occupational therapist
    • An athletic therapist
    • An Exercise physiologist
    • A kinesiologist
    • A nurse
    • A gerontologist
    • A rehabilitation assistant
    • A recreation Coordinator/Facilitator
    • A certified Tai Chi instructor
    • A certified Pilates instructor
    • A certified Yoga instructor
    • A certified fitness leader/instructor
    • A certified personal trainer
To register an exercise program to be included in the Inventory of Exercise Programs for Falls Prevention or to edit information about an exercise program, please follow the steps below. Each program must be registered separately, so if you are registering more than one program, please complete the steps once for each program.

To register a program:

  1. Determine if your program meets the criteria for inclusion in the Inventory of Exercise Programs for Falls Prevention and answer the questions on the Program Eligibility Form.
  2. Use the Consumer Information Form to provide information about your exercise program. This form will be included in the inventory to provide consumers with more information about your exercise program. Send your completed Program Eligibility Form and Consumer Information Form to us at injuryinfo@wrha.mb.ca or IMPACT – Injury Prevention, WRHA, 490 Hargrave Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3A 0X7.
  3. We will contact you to confirm that your exercise program meets the inclusion criteria and to clarify information provided on the consumer information form if required.
  4. We randomly audit exercise programs that have registered to be on the Inventory of Exercise Programs for Falls Prevention to ensure accuracy of the information provided. If you have registered for the inventory, we may contact you to arrange a time to observe your exercise program. Programs that do not agree to be observed or that do not meet the inclusion criteria based on our observation will be removed from the inventory.

To edit information about a program:

  1. Review the consumer information for your program that is currently on this website. You can find your program on the inventory using the postal code search tool.
  2. Use the Consumer Information Form to revise your program information.
  3. Send your revised Consumer Information Form to us at injuryinfo@wrha.mb.ca or IMPACT- Injury Prevention, WRHA, 490 Hargrave Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3A 0X7. Be sure to indicate that this is revised Consumer Information for a currently registered program.