CONTACT: L. E. OHMAN
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
UI researchers find strength training lowers risk of falling among
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The "I've fallen and can't get up" ads
have been the brunt of many jokes, but falling is no joke to older adults.
One-third of adults 75 years and older in an independent living situation
report having fallen in the last year. Some 85 percent of the fractures
caused by those falls lead to health complications or even death. Complications
can decrease independence, lower morale and become a financial burden.
Programs are available to help seniors improve their strength, flexibility
and balance so they can avoid falls, but most are in medical settings and
not accessible to all older people.
Dr. Kenneth Mobily, University of Iowa professor of sports, health,
leisure and physical studies, has developed a low-tech, community-based
strength training program that improves the physical condition and capabilities
in older folks and helps prevent falls.
The results of the eight-week progressive resistance training program
are published in the most recent issue of the Therapeutic Recreation Journal.
"One of the big benefits of the program is that one doesn't need
a high-tech medical setting, and a community health worker or nurse can
run it," Mobily said. "It is an example of taking what is done
in a medical facility into the community."
Fifteen people -- three men and 12 women between the ages of 60 and
83 years old -- from the Johnson County Senior Center participated in the
program. The training routine consisted of a five-minute warmup, including
flexibility exercises, a 30-minute workout with light weights designed
to improve muscle strength and endurance, followed by a five-minute cool-down
period, again using flexibility exercises. Exercises to improve static
balance and balance while moving were also included because a number of
falls occur when older people change direction.
The participants were tested on flexibility, agility, dynamic and static
balance, motor coordination, cardiovascular endurance, and muscular endurance
before and after training. Mobily and co-author Paula Mobily, associate
professor in the UI College of Nursing, found that training led to significant
improvement in five of the seven measures: flexibility, agility, dynamic
balance, motor coordination, and muscle endurance.