HealthDay News — For older adults at risk of falls, integrating balance and strength training into routine daily activities may help reduce the rate of falls, according to a recent study.

Researchers examined whether a lifestyle-integrated approach to balance and strength training would reduce the rate of falls for older, high-risk individuals living at home. Participants (aged 70 years or older) were assigned to either a lifestyle-integrated functional exercise (LiFE) approach (107 participants); a structured program of exercise (105 participants); or a sham control program comprising gentle exercise (105 participants). Participants were assessed at baseline and after six and 12 months.

After 12 months, researchers identified 172 falls in the LiFE group, 193 in the structured-exercise group, and 224 in the control group, for an overall incidence of 1.66, 1.90, and 2.28 falls per-person, respectively. The rate of falls was reduced by 31% in the LiFE program vs. controls, while the difference between the LiFE group and the structured-exercise group was not significant. Compared with controls, participants in the LiFE group had significantly better static balance on an eight-level hierarchical scale, ankle strength, function, and participation. For dynamic balance there was a significant and moderate improvement in the LiFE and structured-exercise groups, respectively, compared with controls.

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“The LiFE program provides an additional choice to traditional exercise and another fall prevention program that could work for some people,” the authors write.