A music-based multitask exercise program may lead to improved gait (manner or style of walking), balance and a reduction in the rate of falling among elderly people, suggests a study.
"Exercise can counteract key risk factors for falls, such as poor balance, and consequently reduce risk of falling in elderly community-dwelling individuals," wrote authors.
As a large proportion of falls in elderly people occur during walking, Andrea Trombetti, of University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine of Geneva, and colleagues conducted a randomised controlled trial of a six-month music-based multitask exercise program to determine if such a program would lead to improvements in gait and balance, and reduce the risk of falling in community-dwelling older adults.
During the study, adults were randomly assigned to either a music-based multitask exercise program, or a delayed intervention control group. For the first six months, adults in the intervention group participated in a one-hour weekly exercise program led by an instructor.
The class featured multitask exercises, including a wide-range of movements that challenged the body's balance control system, which gradually became more difficult over time. These exercises included walking in time to the piano music, and responding to changes in the music's rhythm.
During the second six months of the study, the delayed intervention control group participated in the same exercise class program, while adults in the intervention group returned to normal exercise activities.
Overall, balance and functional tests improved in the intervention group when compared to the control group.
This study has shown "that participation in music-based multitask exercise classes once a week over a 6-month period can improve gait performance under single and cognitive-motor, dual-task conditions, as well as improve balance, and reduce both the rate of falls and the risk of falling in at-risk elderly community-dwelling adults," concluded the authors.
The findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.