A Pilot Study Comparing the Influence of Different Types of Exercise Intervention on the Fear of Falling in Older Adults
Background: Individuals who fear falling may restrict themselves from performing certain activities and may increase their risk of falling. Such fear, reflected in the form of falls efficacy, has been measured in only a small number of studies measuring the effectiveness of exercise interventions in the elderly. This may be due to the various types of exercise that can be performed. Hence the effectiveness of exercise on falls efficacy is relatively understudied. Therefore, there is a need to measure falls efficacy as an outcome variable when conducting exercise interventions in the elderly.
Methods: A total of 43 elderly community-dwelling volunteers were recruited and randomly allocated to a conventional exercise intervention, a holistic exercise intervention, or a control group. The interventions were performed 2 days per week for 10 weeks. Falls efficacy was measured at baseline and at the completion of the interventions using the Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES).
Results: Within group comparisons between baseline and follow-up indicated no significant improvements in falls efficacy, however, the difference for the conventional exercise group approached statistical significance (baseline 8.9 to follow-up 9.3; P = 0.058). Within group comparisons of mean difference MFES scores showed a significant difference between the conventional exercise group and the control group (conventional exercise group 0.4 vs control group −0.6; P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Given the lack of significant improvements in falls efficacy found for any of the groups, it cannot be concluded whether a conventional or a holistic exercise intervention is the best approach for improving falls efficacy. It is possible that the characteristics of the exercise interventions including specificity, intensity, frequency and duration need to be manipulated if the purpose is to bring about improvements in falls efficacy.
McCormack, G., Lewin, G., McCormack, B., Helmes, E., Rose, E., & Naumann, F. (2004). A pilot study comparing the influence of different types of exercise intervention on the fear of falling in older adults. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 23(3), 131-135. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6612.2004.00034.x