Research out of the University of Eastern Finland suggests that providing better access to group exercise opportunities can significantly lower the rate of falls and injuries among older women.
The findings, recently published in Age and Ageing, highlight the importance of exercise in maintaining health and preventing injuries in older adults.
Exercise for Fall Prevention
While the health benefits of exercise are well-known, there are few practical trials demonstrating how societal strategies can increase exercise to prevent falls among older people.
In this new study, researchers collaborated with the City of Kuopio, Finland, to investigate whether offering better opportunities for group exercise could prevent falls and related injuries.
The Study Design and Participants
The study involved 914 women with an average age of 76.5 years. The participants were split into two groups – an exercise intervention group and a control group.
The exercise group received a free 12-month pass to the city’s recreational sports facilities, including weekly supervised gym and Thai Chi sessions for the first six months of the intervention.
Keeping Track of Falls
Over the approximately two-year follow-up period, the researchers collected data on recent falls every two weeks through text message queries and fall diaries.
They recorded a total of 1,380 falls, with information on the circumstances of the incidents verified over the phone in 93% of cases.
Most falls occurred on even surfaces due to tripping or slipping, with a quarter of all falls taking place indoors.
Exercise Intervention Results
While about 60% of women in both groups experienced at least one fall during the follow-up period, the exercise intervention group saw a substantial reduction in recurrent falls and fall-related injuries.
This group experienced 14.3% fewer falls overall and 25.6% fewer falls indoors than the control group.
There were also fewer overall fall-related injuries in the exercise group, with falls causing significant pain down by 41% and falls leading to a fracture diagnosis down by 38%.
Implementing Exercise Strategies
The research demonstrates that offering free access to light or moderate-intensity group training can effectively prevent falls and reduce fall-related injuries among older women in urban environments.
As a result, the study’s first author, Senior Researcher Toni Rikkonen, suggests that communities and municipal services should promote the wider implementation of such strategies.
Working with healthcare professionals to prevent falls in local communities seems to be a promising approach.
If you care about pain, please read studies about vitamin K deficiency linked to hip fractures in old people, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.
For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and eating yogurt linked to lower frailty in older people.
The study was published in Age and Ageing.
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