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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2008 Feb;20(1):19-24.

Square-stepping exercise versus strength and balance training for fall risk factors.

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Faculty of Education, Mie University, Mie, Japan 514-8507.



Feasible and lowcost exercise programmes targeting fall risk factors may decrease the risk of falling in older adults. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of square-stepping exercise (SSE) training, which is a new and low-cost method designed to improve lower-extremity functional fitness, with strength and balance (SB) training.


The study included 39 community-dwelling adults aged 65 to 74 years. The participants were randomized to either group SSE (n=20) or SB (n=19). They engaged in 70- min group exercise sessions twice a week for 12 weeks. The efficacy of the program was measured with both a 9- item test battery for assessment of physical performance and self-reported scales (fear of falling, pleasure in exercise, perceived health status). Fall incidence was followed up for 14 months.


The results of a 2-way ANOVA revealed that the time effect in 7 of the 9 performance tests was significant, although group-by-time interactions were not. No significant changes were observed in the self reported scales. During the 14-month follow-up period, 7 falls in 6 participants in the SSE group and 12 falls in 11 participants in the SB group were reported. The incidence rate per person in the SSE group (30.0%) was not significantly different from that in the SB group (57.9%). The rate of falls per trip [falls/(falls + trips)] in the SSE group (17.1%) was significantly lower than in the SB group (50.0%).


SSE is as equally effective as SB training in improving lower-extremity functional fitness. SSE may also be recommended for older adults, due to its low cost and effectiveness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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