Simple Exercise Can Bring Seniors Back in Balance

Inexpensive program improves strength, protects against falls

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TUESDAY, April 22, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A simple, inexpensive exercise program can help seniors achieve significant strength and balance improvements in just a few weeks and help protect them from falls.

These results come from a University of Arkansas-sponsored pilot outreach project.

The Project Urging Senior Health (PUSH) project was designed to demonstrate the ease of starting and maintaining senior exercise programs in the community. In a trial run, researchers implemented simple fitness programs at two senior centers in Arkansas.

The results were so impressive, the researchers suggest that similar programs across the country could greatly reduce the number of seniors who suffer falls and fall-related fractures.

The exercise program consisted of three 40-minute sessions per week. The seniors did stretching and strengthening exercises using therabands and exercise balls. At the end of 10 weeks, the 19 seniors being studied had statistically significant improvements in balance, strength and dynamic balance.

The researchers also found the exercise program improved the seniors' mental health and their levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Their findings were presented at a recent meeting of the Association for Gerontology.

Falls present a serous health risk to seniors. One of three seniors who break a hip dies as a result of complications from the fracture.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about exercise for seniors.

SOURCE: University of Arkansas, news release

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