Strength Training Can Help Reduce Falls
Strength and balance training can help older people lower their risk of falls, new research shows.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, in Australia, surveyed adults 70 years or older. All the subjects had, in the previous twelve months, suffered two or more falls or one fall that resulted in injury.
Falls are a significant problem among elderly people. Weak bones often fracture in a fall, and that can lead to loss of mobility, hospitalization and even death.
The participants were divided into three groups. Each had a different exercise program: one that incorporated balance and strength training; another worked with ankle weights; and the third was given gentle exercise unlikely to have any effect.
Over the length of the twelve-month study, the participants recorded the number of falls they had, and researchers measured their strength in the hip, knees and ankles. Those who participated in strength and balance training reduced their rate of falls by 31 percent, while participants in the other two groups showed only an insignificant drop.
At the same time, it’s estimated that fewer than 10 percent of the general population 70 and over engage in balance and strength training.
The study results were published in the “British Medical journal.” In an editorial that accompanied the results, Meg Morris of the University of Melbourne, said, "The belief that falls should be accepted and tolerated as part of the aging process is a myth that needs dispelling. Many falls can and should be prevented."