Maintaining a good sense of balance is important as we get older, since it helps prevent potentially dangerous falls. But what exercises are best to do? A meta-analysis of balance studies finds several that might be key.
A recently released Cochran Library study updates one done in 2007 with 62 added studies for a total of 94 that included 9,917 participants in people ages 60 and older, most of them women living at home.
The various exercise programs studies were broken down into eight categories: gait, coordination and functional tasks; strengthening exercises; three-dimensional exercises such as dance, yoga and tai chi; walking; cycling; computerized balance training that used visual feedback; vibration platform training; and multiple exercise programs that use combinations of these.
"Although the duration and frequency of these exercise programs vary, in general the effective programs ran three times a week for a duration of three months and involved exercises that challenged people's balance while they were standing," said lead author Tracy Howe in a news release. Howe is with the School of Health & Life Sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.