Objectives: We investigated the effectiveness of a group-based exercise intervention to improve balancing ability among older adults delivered in natural settings by staff in local community organizations.
Methods: The main component of the intervention consisted of biweekly group-based exercise sessions conducted over 12 weeks by a professional, coupled with home-based exercises. In a quasiexperimental design, 10 community organizations working with older adults offered the intervention to groups of 5 to 15 persons concerned about falls, while 7 organizations recruited similar groups to participate in the control arm of the study. Participants (98 experimental and 102 control) underwent balance assessments by a physiotherapist at registration and 3 months later.
Results: Eighty-nine percent of participants attended the 3-month measurement session (n=177). A linear regression analysis showed that after adjusting for baseline levels of balance and demographic and health characteristics, the intervention significantly improved static balance and mobility.
Conclusion: Structured, group-based exercise programs offered by community organizations in natural settings can successfully increase balancing ability among community-dwelling older adults concerned about falls.