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This study examined the effects of a 1-year low intensity exercise program in community dwelling older women on falls, injuries, and risk factors for falls such as poor balance, muscular weakness, and gait abnormalities. Eighty older women were assigned to an exercise (Ex, n = 42) or attention control (Co, n = 38) group. During the 1-year study, 36% of the Ex group experienced a fall compared to 45% of the Co group (χ2 = 0.22, p ≥ 0.05). None of the 10 fallers in the Ex group suffered an injury that required medical attention, compared with 3 of the 14 fallers (21%) in the Co group. Further analyses indicated that the Co group declined significantly in isometric strength of the knee extensors and ankle dorsiflexors while the Ex group did not change significantly across the 1-year study. On measures of hip abductor strength, balance, and gait, the groups were not significantly different from each other pre- to post intervention.
P. Gilliam MacRae and M.E. Feltner: Department of Sports Medicine and Physical Education, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263. S. Reinsch: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of California, Irvine, Medical Center, P.O. Box 14091, Orange, CA 92613-1491.