Regular exercise reduces older men’s risk of serious injuries from falls, a new study finds.
“The physical activity program was more effective in reducing the rate of serious fall injuries in men than in women,” said study author Dr. Thomas Gill, a professor of geriatrics at Yale University, in New Haven, Conn.
Although the findings were mixed, they suggest that moderate exercise may help prevent serious falls, the leading cause of injury in people 70 and older, Gill said in a university news release.
The study included more than 1,600 inactive women and men, aged 70 to 89, randomly assigned to either a long-term, moderate exercise regimen or to a health education program.
The physical activity sessions included walking and flexibility, strength and balance training.
Compared to those in the health education group, men in the workout group had a 38 percent lower risk of serious fall injuries, a 53 percent lower risk of fall-related fractures, and a 59 percent lower rate of fall injuries requiring hospitalization.
The exercise program did not appear to reduce women’s risk of serious fall injuries, according to the study published online Feb. 3 in the journal BMJ.
The men in the exercise group boosted their physical activity levels more than the women, and also had greater improvements in gait, balance and muscle strength, the researchers said.
“The results from the current study support continued evaluation of the physical activity program for possible widespread implementation in the community,” Gill said.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about older adults and falls.