January 2015

Home-based walking program boosts mobility but does not alter rate of falls

By P.K. Daniel

While walking is a popular form of exercise among the elderly that improves mobility, a home-based walking program does not curb the risk of falling, according to an Australian study.

Researchers from multiple institutions in New South Wales recruited 386 people aged 65 years and older from the Sydney area and randomized them to two groups. The intervention group received a series of three printed manuals guiding participants through a 48-week self-managed walking program, start­ing at a level appropriate for sedentary individuals and progressing through increased levels of frequency and duration. The walking program also included eight telephone-based counseling sessions during the 48 weeks. The control group received general health information unrelated to falls. Monthly calendars were used to record falls and other information.

The study, epublished in January by Age and Ageing, found no difference in fall rates between the two groups, although the participants in the intervention group spent significantly more time walking for exercise than those in the control group and in general were more physically active.

Source:

Voukelatos A, Merom D, Sherrington C, et al. The impact of a home-based walking programme on falls in older people: the Easy Steps randomised controlled trial. Age Ageing 2015 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]

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