Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community: an abridged Cochrane systematic Review

Cathie Sherrington*, Nicola Fairhall, Geraldine Wallbank, Anne Tiedemann, Zoe A Michaleff, Kirsten Howard, Lindy Clemson, Sally Hopewell, Sarah Lamb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of exercise interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials evaluating the effects of any form of exercise as a single intervention on falls in people aged 60+years living in the community.

RESULTS: Exercise reduces the rate of falls by 23% (rate ratio (RaR) 0.77, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.83; 12 981 participants, 59 studies; high-certainty evidence). Subgroup analyses showed no evidence of a difference in effect on falls on the basis of risk of falling as a trial inclusion criterion, participant age 75 years+ or group versus individual exercise but revealed a larger effect of exercise in trials where interventions were delivered by a health professional (usually a physiotherapist). Different forms of exercise had different impacts on falls. Compared with control, balance and functional exercises reduce the rate of falls by 24% (RaR 0.76, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.81; 7920 participants, 39 studies; high-certainty evidence). Multiple types of exercise (commonly balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises) probably reduce the rate of falls by 34% (RaR 0.66, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.88; 1374 participants, 11 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). Tai Chi may reduce the rate of falls by 19% (RaR 0.81, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.99; 2655 participants, 7 studies; low-certainty evidence). We are uncertain of the effects of programmes that primarily involve resistance training, dance or walking.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Given the certainty of evidence, effective programmes should now be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-891
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number15
Early online date2 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


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