September 30th 2004
FALLS IN ELDERLY DECREASE WITH EXERCISE
A University of New South Wales researcher has found that targeted group exercise amongst the elderly reduces the risk of falls by over 20 percent.
The study was the first to focus specifically on people living in retirement villages – a group with a high risk of falling and severely injuring themselves.
“Virtually everyone knows that exercise is good for you. It is just that different exercises are good for different things,” said Associate Professor Stephen Lord, the Director of the Falls and Balance Research Group at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute. “It is not so much as any exercise, but the type of exercise program we put in place is important.”
The twelve-month study involved 551 people living in 20 retirement villages in Sydney and Wollongong. Half of the group were randomly chosen to take part in the weight bearing exercises, which were tailored to improve factors such as balance, coordination and stepping ability.
“The programs are conducted on site and provide a structure,” said Associate Professor Lord. “The timetable for the twice weekly classes helps with adherence over the longer term and there are spin-offs of interaction, too. If it is more enjoyable, they are more likely to keep coming.”
The researchers found there were significantly fewer falls amongst those who had taken part in the group exercise program and that they performed better in a range of other fitness tests such as distance walked in six minutes.
Even though the yearlong trial has been completed, the program was so popular that each of the sites has maintained the classes.
“It is one thing to do research, but it is rewarding to know that you start a program and it lives on,” said Associate Professor Lord.
The study appeared recently in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
CONTACT DETAILS: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media unit, tel. 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to Source