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Exercise May Reduce Falls Risk Through Cognitive Benefits
Publisher:Aging in Action
Date published:8 May, 2012
Region:United States of America
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Research has shown that falls reduction programs that include exercise are most effective at reducing falls risk. It is often assumed that these programs are effective because they improve physical performance, such as greater muscle strength and balance.
A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia propose a different explanation for the effectiveness of exercise for falls reduction. In a forthcoming commentary in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, they hypothesize that the improved cognitive function that can result from exercise has a greater role in falls prevention than do balance and strength. They refer to this hypothesis as the “central benefit model.”
This model is based on a meta-analysis of four clinical trials of a specific falls reduction program, and on neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies of falls risk. In the meta-analysis, the occurrence of falls was reduced greatly by the falls reduction program, while there were little to no measurable physical performance effects. In other words, it appeared that the program reduced the risk of falls by some means other than improved strength or balance. How else might exercise reduce the risk of falls?
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