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Regular Exercise Including Balance Training Reduces Fall Risk For Older Adults

Thorne Research

Sheena Smith, MS (Biol)

Category: Health & Wellness

Regular exercise including balance training reduces fall risk for older adults

In a meta-analysis drawing from five databases, researchers evaluated the results from 46 randomized controlled trials (22,709 individuals) with an age mean of 73.1 years and an exercise group versus a control group for at least one year (mean, 17 months).

The active groups engaged in moderate-intensity exercise an average of 50 minutes a day three times a week. The majority of the trials used multi-component exercise with a balance component, and it was this mode that corresponded with the most significant results. Data was compiled for six outcomes – mortality, hospitalization, fallers (1 fall), multiple fallers (2 or more falls), injurious fallers, and fractures.  

Significant associations were found between long-term exercise and reduction in risk of falling (12%) and risk of injury with a fall (26%).

There was a non-significant association between exercise and reduced risk of fracture. Risk for multiple falls, of hospitalization, and of mortality were not significantly affected by exercise in the study results.
There was an association between exercise 2-3 times/week and decreased mortality, while exercise more than 3 times/week was actually associated with increased risk for falling.  

The authors propose moderate-intensity, multi-component exercise with balance training, at a frequency of 2-3 times/week for 30-60 minutes to be the most effective for protecting older adults from falls, but noted there might be a need to attenuate this for the most at-risk population.

Contributed by Sheena Smith, MS (Biol) 

de Souto-Barreto P, Rolland Y, Vellas B, Maltais M. Association of long-term exercise training with risk of falls, fractures, hospitalizations, and mortality in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med 2018 Dec 28.  doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5406 

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