The good news, according to the CDC, is that fall-prevention programs can help people reduce their fall risk by addressing everything from muscle weakness in the legs to poor vision, environmental hazards (such as slippery surfaces or tripping hazards) and the effect of medications.

But, according to the report, the most effective single strategy involves exercise or physical therapy, which studies have found can reduce fall risk by 14 to 37 percent by improving gait, balance and lower body strength. For an exercise program to be effective in reducing falls, the report says it must a) help patients improve their balance, b) get more difficult over time, and c) involve 50 hours of practice.

Patience White, MD, a national arthritis expert with the Arthritis Foundation, says exercise programs are invaluable in helping people with arthritis.

“It’s another way to decrease the disability that occurs with arthritis,” Dr. White explains. “If you don’t have good balance and muscle strength, you are more likely to hurt yourself when you fall, and once you fall, you are at risk for falling again. It’s key to take action to improve your strength and balance so you will not fall again.”

“Nothing is a quick fix… You have to do physical activity consistently over time for it to make a difference,” Dr. White says. “This is another reason why you have to become physically active. It’s good for so many medical conditions.”

Dr. White says the Arthritis Foundation’s website is a great place for people with arthritis to get ideas on ways to start becoming physically active. It includes information about its Walk with Ease Program and its tai chi program.