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Exercise in the elderly cuts falls risk and the risk of injury from a fall

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Exercise programmes for the over-60s not only prevent falls,  they also reduce the chance that a fall will result in a injury, suggests a study in the BMJ.

French researchers used data from 17 studies to categorise types of falls into four groups: all falls causing injury, falls requiring medical care, severe falls causing injury, and falls that caused fractures.

Data was collected on 2195 people who followed exercise programs and 2110 who did not. Mean age of the participants was 76 years, and 77% were women.

The researchers found that exercise programs had significant effects in all fall categories. Those in the exercise group had a 37% reduced risk of an injurious falls, a 30% reduction in falls requiring medical care, a 43% reduced risk of a severe fall causing injury, and a 61% reduction in falls causing fractures.

The studies were heterogeneous. For example, 14 trials administered exercise in groups, with 6 of them adding home-based exercise, whereas the other three trials only used individual exercise done at home. Seven studies included high-risk participants - older and with fall history. The studies also differed in the types of exercise: some used only tai chi, whereas others incorporated gait and balance and strength/resistance training to different degrees

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