Simple exercise such as standing on one leg could reduce falls among elderly, revealed a new research by the University of Sydney. Falls are the major causes of injury and death among people aged over seventy and they are accountable for more than half of hospital admissions for accidental injury.
The University team developed the LiFE (Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise) programme that involves daily training routines such as walking, stepping over objects and moving from sitting to standing. Then, the team compared this programme with a structured exercise programme which is performed three times a week using ankle cuff weights and gentle sham exercises that acted as the study control.
For their analysis researchers conscripted more than three hundreds elderly aged seventy and above, who were living in neighbourhood and having two or more falls in the previous year. They were separated into three treatments groups and recorded any falls over the period of one year.
Other measures such as static and dynamic balance, ankle, knee and hip strength, daily living activities, and quality of life were also measured with the help of recognised scales. They found a thirty-one percent diminution in the rate of falls for elderly who participated in the LiFE programme than elderly in the control group.
On the whole frequency of falls in the LiFE programme was 1.66 per person years, in comparison to 1.90 in the structured programme and 2.28 in the control group. There was a non-significant diminution in the rate of falls for elderly in the structured programme than for elderly in the control group.
Elderly in Life programme showed improvements in both static and dynamic balance, ankle strength and in function and participation in daily life in comparison to control group, which suggests this programme improves both fall risk and frailty. Besides, adherence was significantly better in the LiFE programme and control group compared with the structured exercise programme.
Prof Lindy Clemson an ageing specialist, explained LiFE is a tailored programme of embedded balance and strength activities, taught over five home visits with two booster visits. It provides an alternative to traditional exercise to consider for fall prevention. Functional based exercise should be a focus for interventions to protect older, high risk people from falling and to improve and maintain functional capacity.
The study was published online in the British Medical Journal.