Lifestyle-Integrated Approach Reduces Falls Among Elderly

Seniors at risk of falls benefit from integration of balance, strength training into routine activities

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- For older adults at risk of falls, the integration of balance and strength training into routine daily activities correlates with a reduced rate of falls, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in BMJ.

Lindy Cemson, Ph.D., from the University of Sydney in Lidcombe, Australia, and colleagues conducted a three-arm randomized parallel trial to examine whether a lifestyle-integrated approach to balance and strength training would reduce the rate of falls for older, high-risk individuals living at home. Participants (aged 70 years or older) were assigned to either a lifestyle-integrated functional exercise (LiFE) approach (107 participants; taught principles of balance and strength training and integrated selected activities into everyday routines); a structured program of exercise (105 participants); or a sham control program comprising gentle exercise (105 participants). Participants were assessed at baseline and after six and 12 months.

After 12 months of follow-up the researchers identified 172 falls in the LiFE group, 193 in the structured-exercise group, and 224 in the control group, for an overall incidence of 1.66, 1.90, and 2.28 falls per-person, respectively. The rate of falls was reduced by 31 percent in the LiFE program versus controls, while the difference between the LiFE group and the structured-exercise group was not significant. Compared with controls, participants in the LiFE group had significantly better static balance on an eight-level hierarchical scale, ankle strength, function, and participation. For dynamic balance there was a significant and moderate improvement in the LiFE and structured-exercise groups, respectively, compared with controls.

"The LiFE program provides an additional choice to traditional exercise and another fall prevention program that could work for some people," the authors write.

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