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Seniors Wii bowl for world record and for health

  • Story Highlights
  • World's largest senior citizen Wii bowling tournament held in Houston, Texas
  • Event, for fun and fitness, also had health fair and immunization clinic
  • Sports like Wii bowling can help seniors develop or maintain balance, strength
  • Falls are leading cause of injury-related death in seniors
By Matt Sloane
CNN Medical Producer
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(CNN) -- A world record was set recently in Houston, Texas. It wasn't the world's fastest quarter-mile run, the world's largest pumpkin or even the world's heaviest man. It was, however, as stunning to witness: the world's largest senior citizen Wii bowling tournament, as confirmed by Guinness World Records.

The largest senior citizen Wii bowling tournament also included a health fair and immunization clinic.

The largest senior citizen Wii bowling tournament also included a health fair and immunization clinic.

The event, put on by TexanPlus -- the Houston area's largest Medicare HMO -- drew more than 1,500 supporters and 600 senior bowlers to break a record but also to have fun and dish out a little bit of Texas-style competition and a side helping of health information.

"I'm in it to win it," one man said as he rolled his walker up to the foul line.

One booty-shakin' grandma even showed off her victory dance after she Wii-bowled a strike.

Aside from a seniors-gone-wild moment, this event served a very important purpose: to encourage seniors to get stronger and fitter, possibly saving them from life-altering injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in seniors.

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A fall -- or, worse, a broken bone that limits a senior's mobility -- can be the start of a downward spiral that ends up taking a life, says Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, founder of a senior fitness center called Nifty After Fifty.

"Those, for example, who have hip fractures are likely not to be alive two years from now," Zinberg said. "Fifty percent of them never get out of a nursing home."

Falls are among many concerns for seniors. To help address other life-threatening conditions, such as influenza, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and senior abuse, the event also included a health fair, an immunization clinic and demonstrations on "cane-fu fighting," a method of self-defense that makes use of seniors' canes to ward off attackers. Video Watch more on the record-breaking bowling tournament »

If you're a senior and Wii bowling isn't up your alley, there are plenty of other steps you can take to prevent falls.

According to the American Association of Family Physicians, seniors can reduce their likelihood of falling by making changes in three key areas.

Make sure your home is safe

Remove objects that may get in your way as you walk, install night lights and handrails in bathrooms, and call friends or family members to take care of small projects that require the use of step-stools or ladders.

Talk with your doctor

Have your eyes checked for vision changes that may impair your depth perception, ask your doctor about medications that may make you dizzy or disoriented, and use a walking aid, such as a cane or a walker, if your physician recommends it.

Get your body in shape

Commit to regular exercise, even something as simple as a daily walk around the block. Exercise can help keep you mobile and flexible; upper-body exercise in particular can help strengthen your breathing muscles. Also, limit your alcohol intake to less than two drinks a day, and if you smoke, quit.

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As for the Wii bowlers, all the participants -- winners and runners-up -- reported that they were happy they came.

"We were all good," participant Sarah Pilgreen said. "I think its very important for us as we get older to stay in sports and whatever we can do."

All About Aging and the ElderlyExercise and FitnessCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

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