Efficacy of Balance Exercises in the Elderly Questioned

Most effective exercise programs ran three times a week for three months

THURSDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Some exercise types may be effective for improving balance in older people, although the evidence is weak, according to a review published online Nov. 9 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Tracey E. Howe, Ph.D., from Glasgow Caledonian University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed available literature to assess the impact of exercise interventions on balance in older people, aged 60 years and older. A total of 94 randomized controlled trials, with 9,917 participants, were included in the analysis. Women living in their own home constituted the majority of the participants, with some studies including frail people residing in hospital or residential facilities.

The investigators found that there was weak evidence to show that some types of exercise (gait, balance, coordination, and functional tasks; strengthening exercise; 3D exercise and multiple exercise types) were moderately effective in improving clinical balance outcomes in older people, immediately after the intervention. For general physical activity (walking or cycling) and exercise involving computerized balance programs or vibration plates, there is no or insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions.

"In general, the more effective programs ran three times a week for three months and involved dynamic exercise in standing," the authors write. "However, the missing data and compromised methods of many included trials meant that further high quality research is required."

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to an exercise delivery training company.

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