A study has found that exercise helps elderly people stay steady on their feet at a time when reducing balance could put them at risk for falls.
The study, led by Tracey Howe, director of HealthQWest, a research consortium based at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, revealed that different groups of adults who participated in a variety of exercises including walking, strength and balance training, dancing and tai chi showed greater balancing ability.
"Our message is that some form of exercise will improve balance and it's never too late to exercise. Specifically, exercise that challenges your balance is best," Howe said.
In the study analysis were made on the basis of 34 previous studies, which involved more than 2,800 participants. On average the study participants were over age 75, generally healthy, and the majority were women.
After engaging in an exercise program, study participants achieved improvements in different kinds of balance measures including walking speed, standing on one leg and reaching forward without tipping over. Howe said, the balance gains shown in the study are significant because balance is involved in almost everything we do.
"You use it every time you move positions, even walking. Walking is nothing more than movement without falling — controlled falling," Howe said.
"Good balance allows you to react to change. As they get older, some people have problems with their muscles being rigid," she said.
The study is published in The Cochrane Library.