Seniors group exercise helps reduce risk of falls

Recent research from a University of the Sunshine Coast PhD student has shown that seniors who exercise in groups are likely to have a reduced risk of falls later down the track.

Vaughan Nicholson, a 33-year-old physiotherapist of Ferny Hills in Brisbane, conducted a three-part study looking at the impact of group fitness on more than 100 adults aged 55-75.

His PhD in Sport and Exercise Science specifically analysed the benefits for seniors who participated in group BodyBalance and BodyPump classes over a 12 to 26 week period as well as an interactive virtual balance game.

The project, supported by Australian Fitness Network, found there was an improvement in functional task performance, which could lead to greater stability, spatial and balance awareness.

‘This improvement in being able to perform basic tasks and balance could potentially help in reducing the future risk of falls in participants’ Nicholson said; ‘The research also found that BodyPump participants had increased upper and lower body strength and their lumbar spine bone mineral density. These findings clearly demonstrate that group fitness is a not just an activity for the younger generations. It is a very effective form of activity for healthy adults aged 55-75 and can play a role in helping them to retain and increase their balance over the longer term.’

Nicholson’s supervisor, Dr Mark McKean, said the findings of the USC research would be rolled out on an international level to inform the managers and members of more than 14,000 fitness facilities.

‘Clubs utilising the group exercise programs designed by Les Mills International will use these findings to further improve and support these group exercise programs’ McKean said; ‘This is a fantastic result as the characteristics of the average fitness club member are changing dramatically and clubs need to change their offerings to meet varying member needs.’

Source: University of the Sunshine Coast