orange sneakers on cement stairs

By Christian Thompson

No matter how fit and healthy your older clients are, there is one thing that can change their lives forever: a bad fall.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1/3 of older adults fall every year and many cause injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives.  For this reason, as a fitness professional, you need to be well-prepared to deliver the most effective fall prevention exercise programming to your clients. 

Programs and Guides to Prevent Risk of Falls

You can find excellent guidance on assessment and program design at  But, you also should be providing advice to your clients on how to reduce their fall risk in other ways. 

Keep Them on Their Feet

  1. Many falls happen outside where there are a lot of potential hazards.  Advise your clients to avoid walking on loose gravel, metallic/painted surfaces, cracked sidewalks, and avoid being outdoors in bad weather (e.g., rain, sleet, snow).  Appointments can always be rescheduled, but a trip to the ER should never be the reason!
  2. Indoors, advise your clients to make sure that their path from the bedroom to the bathroom is free from obstructions (e.g., pet toys, rumpled rugs) prior to going to bed at night. So, that way a trip to the bathroom will not include a trip and a fall!
  3. Advise your older female clients to never wear high-heeled shoes outdoors.  Suggest that they put their heels in a canvas tote bag and walk outside in sneakers or flats instead.  Nobody looks good falling, no matter how stylish the shoes!
  4. In the bathroom, advise your older clients to line the floor of their shower/tub with textured adhesive strips.  These are less likely to cause a slip or a trip than a rubber bath mat that might slip or bunch up.  They also give a nice pedicure!


meeting walking on grass


Special Considerations

To enhance your understanding on special populations or special considerations with clients, consider looking into sections in our PTA Global Certified Personal Trainer Course covered by Christian:

  • The Aging Process: Why Older Adults Begin Exercise
  • The Aging Process: Improvements in Quality of Life
  • The Aging Process: Impacts of Aging
  • Strategies for Working with Older Adults
  • Training Older Adults: Functional Strategies
  • Training Older Adults: Cardiovascular Disease and Comorbidities
  • Training Older Adults: Medical Issues & Medications

You can also find out more about Fall prevention here: link.

About the Author: Christian Thompson

Christian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of San Francisco, an affiliate researcher in Neurology at UCSF Medical Center, and the owner of Thompson Fitness Solutions, LLC.  Christian has published scientific articles on exercise programming for older adults in peer-reviewed journals such as Translational Journal of the ACSM, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, and Journal of Applied Research.

Christian’s current professional service includes sitting on the advisory board of the Medical Fitness Education Foundation, the Functional Aging Institute and serving as editor for the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.  His past professional service includes involvement with the American College of Sports Medicine by serving as Chair of the Interest Group on Aging, the Health & Fitness Summit Planning Committee and the Professional Education Committee.

Christian is a featured author of older adult training courses hosted by PTontheNet, the Medical Fitness network and the PTA Global certification program.  He has also developed educational content for IDEA, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, TRX Training, and the American College of Sports Medicine and has written for numerous lay and industry publications such as the ACSM Health Fitness Journal, IDEA Fitness Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Clinic Health Newsletter, Arthritis Advisor, and GOLF Magazine.