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Although there is no direct comparison of fall rate between people with COPD and age-matched healthy population, previous studies suggested that people with COPD have a higher prevalence of falls (44 to 51%)11,12,13 compared with community-dwelling older populations (29 to 33%).14,15,16 The level of balance impairment and fall rate increase further after hospitalisation in people with COPD.17 Falls can be caused by a number of risk factors such as reduced lower limb muscle strength, decreased daily physical activity and reduced standing balance capacity and these risk factors are also associated with COPD.18,19As a result, maintaining and enhancing balance is important especially for patients with a balance deficit or those with an increased risk of falls.

The following exercises can help improve balance:

  • Static and dynamic stance exercises (such as stand with eyes closed, tandem stance, one-legged stance and throw and catch ball), lower limb muscle strength training (such as sit to stand exercises and stepping up and down on a block) and gait exercises (tandem, sideway and backward walk)
  • Tai Chi