Exercise could cut broken bone and hospitalisation risk in elderly men who fall, study suggests

Falls can lead to fatal injuries in elderly people 

Kashmira Gander
Monday 15 February 2016 17:25

Elderly men who exercise may cut their risk of suffering broken bones if they fall, a new study has suggested.

Scientists set out to test whether older people can benefit from following structured exercise programmes.

The study published in 'The BMJ' journal used data on 1635 sedentary adults aged between 70 and 89-years-old from the US Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study.

Participants were dealing with mobility problems, including the inability to walk more than 400m.

Researchers asked half of the the participants to follow a structured, moderate exercises programme at a centre twice a week, and at home three to four times a week.

The regime included aerobic moves as well as others which built strength and flexibility. The other half attended workshops on topics relevant to older people where they were also taught stretches for the upper body.

The team monitored how many falls each person had in 3.5 years, by asking them about incidents every six months.

The study found that men who did exercises were less likely to have serious falls, suffer fractures or be hospitalised that women in the same group.

The researchers found that while the exercises did not significantly cut the number of falls, men were less likely to experience serious injuries such as broken bones or be hospitalised.

“Serious fall injuries are one of the most dreaded and devastating conditions experienced by older persons,” Dr Thomas Gill, a professor of geriatric medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut told Reuters Health.

However, Dr Mary Tinetti at Yale University who studies people falling told Reuters that further research is needed into understanding whether men genuinely benefit more from physical activity than men.

In the UK, falls are the most common cause of injury to related deaths in people aged over 75, according to the NHS.

Elderly people who fall are urged to stay calm. Those who feel strong enough to get up must do so slowly by rolling onto their hands and knees, and holding on to stable furniture to slowly get up. If a person is unable to stand, they must try to get attention by calling for help, banging on the wall or floor, or by using an aid call button.

If a person is able to, they should crawl to a telephone and request an ambulance by calling 999.

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