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Int J Sports Med. 2007 Jan;28(1):53-8. Epub 2006 May 30.

Current physical activity improves balance control during sensory conflicting conditions in older adults.

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Unité de Formation et de Recherche en Sciences et Techniques des Activités Physiques et Sportives (UFR STAPS), Université Henri Poincaré-Nancy 1, Villers-lès-Nancy, France.


Aging process is characterized by difficulties in ensuring balance control, especially in conditions of reduced or conflicting sensory information, leading to an increased risk of falling. Conversely, the practise of physical activities (PA) has been recognized as a good approach to improve the quality of balance control. This study aimed to investigate the influence of current and/or past PA on balance-related neurosensorial organization in older adults on the maintenance of the upright stance, especially during sensory conflicting situations. Postural control was evaluated by means of the Sensory Organization Test on 130 healthy noninstitutionalized volunteers aged over 65, split into four groups according to the presence or absence of PA before or after retirement. Subjects who practised PA for a long time (Gr1) and subjects who started PA after retirement (Gr2) displayed the best postural performances and better managed sensory conflicting situations compared to subjects who had stopped PA for many years (Gr3) and subjects who had never practised PA (Gr4). Multiple regression analyses revealed that current PA was the major determinant for postural parameters during sensorial conflict compared to age, gender, body mass index and past PA. Regular PA, even when started late in life, allows appropriate reorganization of the different components of postural control during sensory conflicting situations. Indeed, active subjects were more able to compensate for suppressed or perturbed sensory information by an increased usage of another referential and so to correct their posture by adopting a more appropriate balance strategy. Thus, PA counteracts the age-related decline of postural control and could consequently reduce the risk of falling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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