Long-Term Effects of Three Multicomponent Exercise Interventions on Physical Performance and Fall-Related Psychological Outcomes in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Ellen Freiberger*, Lothar Haeberle, Waneen W. Spirduso, G. A. Rixt Zijlstra

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVES: To determine the long-term effects of three strength and balance exercise interventions on physical performance, fall-related psychological outcomes, and falls in older people. DESIGN: A single-blinded, four-group, randomized controlled trial. SETTING: Community, Germany. PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling adults aged 70 to 90 who had fallen in the past 6 months or reported fear of falling. INTERVENTION: After baseline assessment, 280 participants were randomly assigned to the control group (CG; no intervention; n = 80) or one of three strength and balance exercise interventions (the strength and balance group (SBG; strength and balance only; n = 63), the fitness group (FG; strength and balance plus endurance training; n = 64), or the multifaceted group (MG; strength and balance plus fall risk education; n = 73). The interventions consisted of 32 one-hour group sessions in 16 weeks. MEASUREMENTS: Data on physical performance, fallrelated psychological outcomes, and falls were collected for 24 months. RESULTS: Mixed-effects regression analyses showed improved short- and long-term (12 and 24 months, respectively) physical performance for the SBG and FG, particularly regarding mobility, balance, and walking speed (P <.05). The improvements in physical performance outcomes were most prominent in the FG. Fallrelated psychological outcomes, number of falls, and injurious falls were not significantly different from in the control group. CONCLUSION: Training focusing on strength, balance, and endurance can enhance physical performance for up to 24 months in community-dwelling older adults. These findings did not translate to improved fall-related psychological outcomes or reduced incidence of falls. This demonstrates the need for a different approach (e.g., regarding intervention dose and components) to gain intervention benefits in the multiple domains that contribute to independence and well-being in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 60:437-446, 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-446
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • aged
  • randomized controlled trial
  • exercise
  • accidental falls
  • fear of falling

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