Update of a systematic review found that exercise can prevent falls in older people

In this updated review, the authors included 88 trials (n=19,478 participants) which tested the effect of exercise to prevent falls in older people. Exercise reduced the rate of falls in community dwelling older people by 21% (pooled rate ratio 0.79, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.85, p<0.001, 69 comparisons). Greater effects were observed with balance training and that least 3 hours per week of exercise (39% reduction in falls). Exercise reduced the rate of falls in people with Parkinson’s disease by 53% (pooled rate ratio 0.47, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.73, p=0.001, 6 comparisons) and by 45% in people with cognitive impairment (pooled rate ratio 0.55, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.83, p=0.004, 3 comparisons). There was no significant effect of exercise for preventing falls in people after stroke (pooled rate ratio 0.74, 95% CI 0.42 to 1.32, p=0.31, 3 comparisons), in people recently discharged from hospital (pooled rate ratio 1.16, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.52, p=0.30, 3 comparisons), and in residential care settings (pooled rate ratio 0.90, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.12, p=0.35, 15 comparisons). Most of the interventions conducted in the included studies involved exercise prescribed as a single intervention by trained health professionals, or professionals specialising in exercise, to minimise the risk of harm during the program. Exercise as a single intervention can prevent falls in community-dwelling older people.

Sherrington C et al. Exercise to prevent falls in older adults: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med 2017;51(24):1750-8

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