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Age Ageing. 2015 May;44(3):377-83. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afu186. Epub 2015 Jan 8.

The impact of a home-based walking programme on falls in older people: the Easy Steps randomised controlled trial.

Author information

1
Health Promotion Service, Sydney and Southwest Sydney Local Health District, Camperdown, NSW, Australia School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
2
School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
3
The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
4
Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
5
Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, Randwick, NSW, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

walking is the most popular form of exercise in older people but the impact of walking on falls is unclear. This study investigated the impact of a 48-week walking programme on falls in older people.

METHODS:

three hundred and eighty-six physically inactive people aged 65+ years living in the community were randomised into an intervention or control group. The intervention group received a self-paced, 48-week walking programme that involved three mailed printed manuals and telephone coaching. Coinciding with the walking programme manual control group participants received health information unrelated to falls. Monthly falls calendars were used to monitor falls (primary outcome) over 48 weeks. Secondary outcomes were self-reported quality of life, falls efficacy, exercise and walking levels. Mobility, leg strength and choice stepping reaction time were measured in a sub-sample (n = 178) of participants.

RESULTS:

there was no difference in fall rates between the intervention and control groups in the follow-up period (IRR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.60-1.29). By the end of the study, intervention group participants spent significantly more time exercising in general, and specifically walking for exercise (median 1.69 versus 0.75 h/week, P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION:

our finding that a walking programme is ineffective in preventing falls supports previous research and questions the suitability of recommending walking as a fall prevention strategy for older people. Walking, however, increases physical activity levels in previously inactive older people.

KEYWORDS:

accidental falls; older people; physical activity; walking

Comment in

PMID:
25572426
DOI:
10.1093/ageing/afu186
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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