Harvard Health Letter

Balance and strength exercises may help reduce falls

Falling is one of the top causes of injury among older adults. It's especially common among people with Parkinson's disease (PD), with 60% falling each year and two-thirds of those falling repeatedly. A study published online Dec. 31, 2014, in Neurology, suggests that exercise may significantly reduce falls among people with less severe PD, and may improve balance and quality of life for anyone with PD. Researchers observed people with PD who took part in a minimally supervised exercise program of 40 to 60 minutes of balance and leg strengthening exercises, three times a week. Study participants performed most of the exercises at home. After six months, people with less severe PD who exercised had 70% fewer falls compared with those who didn't exercise. Exercise didn't reduce the amount of falls among people with severe PD. But exercise helped almost all study participants when it came to reducing their fear of falls, enhancing their mood and quality of life, and improving balance.

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