Trail-walking exercise and fall risk factors in community-dwelling older adults: preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Oct;58(10):1946-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03059.x. Epub 2010 Sep 9.


Objectives: To evaluate the effects of a trail-walking exercise (TWE) program on the rate of falls in community-dwelling older adults.

Design: Pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Setting: This trial was conducted in Japan and involved community-dwelling older adults as participants.

Participants: Sixty participants randomized into a TWE group (n=30) and a walking (W) group (n=30).

Intervention: Exercise class combined with multicomponent trail walking program, versus exercise class combined with simple indoor walking program.

Measurement: Measurement was based on the difference in fall rates between the TWE and W groups.

Results: Six months after the intervention, the incidence rate ratio (IRR) of falls for the TWE group compared with the W group was 0.20 (95% confidence interval (CI)=0.04-0.91); 12 months after the intervention, the IRR of falls for the TWE group compared with the W group was 0.45 (95% CI=0.16-1.77).

Conclusion: The results of this pilot RCT suggest that the TWE program was more effective in improving locomotion and cognitive performance under trail-walking task conditions than walking. In addition, participants who took part in the TWE demonstrated a decrease in the incidence rate of falls 6 months after trial completion. Further confirmation is needed, but this preliminary result may promote a new understanding of accidental falls in older adults.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / rehabilitation*