Combining strength and balance training with normal daily activities is better at reducing falls than structured home-based training programs, according to a new study.
The study compared the effectiveness of exercise programs on adults age 70 and older who experienced two or more falls in the twelve month period before the study began. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three programs: The Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) program, which integrated balance and strength exercises into everyday routines, a structured program, which included planned balance and strength exercise programs done three times a week, and a gentle exercise program, which included flexibility exercises and served as a control group. The LiFE program was similar to the structured program, except instead of allotting a given time to rehabilitation, seniors incorporated the movements into their daily activities. For example, a participant in the LiFE program would be asked to stand on one leg while ironing.
The individuals in the LiFE group experienced fewer falls than both of the other two groups. Seniors in the LiFE program had an average rate of 1.66 falls per person per year, while those in the structured program experienced 1.9 falls per person per year. Averaging 2.28 falls per year, the seniors in the control group fared the worst. Compared to the control group, the LiFE and structured groups both saw significant improvements in dynamic balance.
Part of the LiFE program’s effectiveness can be attributed to adherence. 64 percent of participants adhered to the program, compared to 53 percent of participants in the structured program. “The LiFE program provides an additional choice to traditional exercise and another fall prevention program that could work for some people,” concluded the study. “Furthermore, it challenges allied health professionals to expand their focus when working with older people to find opportunities to incorporate balance and strength training into daily life.”
Read more about the study: Integration of Balance and Strength Training into Daily Life Activity to Reduce Rate of Falls in Older People (the LiFE Study): Randomized Parallel Trial.
Learn more about senior living community fitness programs.
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