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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2003 Feb;13(1):77-85.

Exercise and injury prevention in older people.

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University College London Institute of Human Performance, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, UK.


This review aims to provide the reader with up to date evidence in relation to the role of exercise in the reduction of risk factors and the prevention of falls and injuries. Falls and injury may lead to a spiral of inactivity and decline that take older people close to or below the critical "thresholds" of performance necessary for everyday activities. Yet, low strength and power, poor balance, poor gait and functional ability, and fear of falling are all risk factors for falls modifiable with tailored exercise. Although the evidence on types, amounts and specificity of exercise to prevent falls is not complete, recommendations have been published that have been effective, either as an exercise stand-alone intervention or with exercise as part of a multifactorial intervention. It is clear that the target population must be at risk or already fallers, they must be "not too fit" and "not too frail". Supervised home-based exercise programs may be effective in those aged over 80 because they fall more frequently, injure more easily, and recover more slowly. In younger, community-dwelling, fallers multifactorial group interventions including targeting of balance, strength, power, gait, endurance, flexibility, co-ordination and reaction may be more effective. There are, however, research questions that still need answering - whether there are certain types of exercise harmful in certain subgroups of older people, what is the ideal intensity, frequency and duration of exercise for different subgroups of older people (primary and secondary prevention) and the relative value of the different components of fitness to prevention of falls and injuries. This review highlights the necessity of tailored, specific balance and strength exercise in the multidisciplinary prevention of falls and injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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