Background and aims: Restricted physical activity as a consequence of chronic disease or injury is a predictor of functional decline. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that a 6- month multidimensional training program would have sustained beneficial effects upon the physiological, functional and psychological condition of old women with a recent history of falls.
Methods: Participants were 65 home-dwelling women (70-90 years) identified from hospital records as having had an accidental fall. After assessment of muscle strength, balance performance, walking speed, balance confidence, and physical activity level, the participants were randomly assigned to a control group (n=33) or a training group (n=32), who performed a multidimensional training program including moderate resistance exercise and balance exercise twice weekly for 6 months. Measurements were repeated after 6 and 12 months.
Results: Six months of multidimensional training resulted in significant improvements and between-group differences in isometric knee extension strength (p<0.05), trunk extension/ flexion strength (p<0.001), habitual/maximal walking speed (p<0.001) and balance performance (p<0.001). At follow-up, 6 months after intervention, these improvements were preserved in the training group and there was also a significant between- group difference with regard to balance confidence. No between-group differences were found concerning number of falls or physical activity level during the one-year study period.
Conclusions: A multi-dimensional training program produced significant improvements in physiological and functional risk factors for falls and disability in women aged 70-90 years with a recent history of falls.