-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Exercising to music reduces
the risk of falls among elderly people, researchers have found.
The study included 134 Swiss adults, mostly women, average age
75.5 years, who were at increased risk of falling. They were
assigned to either an intervention group that did a music-based
multitask exercise program or a control group that did normal
exercises. After the first six months, the participants switched
groups for the next six months.
The intervention program used an instructor-led one-hour weekly
exercise program that featured multitask activities, including
movements that were designed to challenge balance and become
increasingly difficult over time. These exercises included walking
in time to piano music and responding to changes in the music's
People in the intervention program showed greater improvement in
balance and had 24 falls (a rate of 0.7 falls per person per year),
compared with 54 falls in the control program (a rate of 1.6 falls
per person per year), the investigators found.
The intervention program increased participants' walking speed
and stride length while performing one task at a time, and
increased their stride length and decreased their stride length
variability while performing multiple tasks at the same time.
This improvement in gait (manner or style of walking) and
balance helped reduce the risk of falls, the researchers
"Our findings suggest that this program may be useful for fall prevention and rehabilitation in community-based settings such as senior centers," Dr. Andrea Trombetti, of University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine of Geneva, and colleagues wrote in their report, which was released online Nov. 22 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine before publication in an
upcoming print issue of the journal.
The same journal issue also includes the results of an
Australian study that found that a personalized multimedia
education program does not appear to reduce the risk of falls among
older hospital patients.
The program, which included written materials, videos and
one-on-one follow-up with a trained professional, offered
information about the frequency and causes of falls. It also
encouraged patients to think about their own fall risks, identify
problem areas, and develop fall prevention goals and
But the researchers didn't find much difference in the rate of
falls between the intervention group and a control group -- 7.6
versus 9.3 falls per 1,000 days per patient.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about
falls and older adults.
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