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Scand J Prim Health Care. 2006 Dec;24(4):199-205.

Prevention of disability by exercise among the elderly: a population-based, randomized, controlled trial.

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Department of Public Health Science and General Practice, University of Oulu, Unit of General Practice, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.



To assess the effectiveness of an intervention planned and implemented by regional geriatric care teams in order to prevent disability in an elderly population.


Randomized, controlled trial with intention-to-treat and subgroup analyses. Subjects and setting. All home-dwelling persons aged 85 years or older in the City of Oulu (n = 555, 67%), including 486 persons with a history of recurrent falls or at least one risk factor for disability in the activities of daily living (ADL) or mobility.


Programme consisting of home exercise, walking exercise, group exercise, and self-care exercise.


Change in ADL and mobility during the intervention.


Change in ADL performance did not differ (p = 0.462) but a positive change was found in mobility performance (p = 0.013) in the intervention subjects (n = 243) compared with the controls (n = 243). At the end of the intervention period, severe mobility restrictions existed similarly in intervention and control subjects: 48 (34%) and 46 (31%) (p = 0.650) respectively. Frequency of admissions into long-term institutional care were similar in intervention and control groups: 15 (7%) and 13 (6%) (p = 0.669). Impaired balance existed in fewer intervention subjects (64, 45%) than controls (89, 59%) (p = 0.015). Frequency and times of home exercise activity reduced in control subjects (p < 0.001) but did not change in subjects assigned to home exercise intervention (p > 0.05).


A pragmatic intervention slowed down the reduction of movement performance but positive effects could not be found in subjects with severe movement and any ADL dysfunction. Positive effects were also found in balance performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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