Older adults don't necessarily have to hit the gym to improve their balance and prevent falls—they just need to get a bit creative when it comes to performing everyday household activities, according to the results of a new study from the University of Sydney.
When compared to seniors who were given more formal strength and coordination exercise regimens, researchers found that making simple modifications to everyday routines—standing on one foot while doing the dishes, or squatting down to open a cabinet door—improved balance and decreased fall rates in people age 70 and older by more than 30 percent.
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The purpose of the study was to test the utility of the Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) program, a specially-designed exercise plan that incorporates balance-enhancing movements into the daily routines of seniors, on older adults who had experienced at least one serious fall in the past year.
Seniors were also more likely to stick with a program that incorporates exercise into a daily routine. Over the course of the year-long study, 64 percent of aging adults kept up with the LiFE plan, versus 53 percent of elders who were given a separate set of coordination drills.
Study authors hope that the program will also prove beneficial for older adults who have not yet had a fall, but who are at risk for one.