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Gerontology. 1989;35(2-3):137-43.

Effect of exercise on postural sway in the elderly.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Fifty female subjects, aged 72-92 (mean 82) years, were enrolled in a 12-week (36 classes) exercise program aimed at increasing postural stability. Subjects were residents of sheltered apartments, rest homes or nursing homes, well enough and mobile enough to participate in the classes. The subjects were randomized into an exercise or a control group. Their postural sway, standing at rest on a force platform, was measured with eyes open and eyes closed. The groups were well matched in all respects. The results showed no improvement in the postural sway as a result of the exercise program. We hypothesize that increasing postural sway in the elderly represents a deterioration in, for the most part, the nervous system and may at this extreme of life indicate an irreversible loss of function. For this reason no improvement in postural sway may be possible.

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