The effect of strength and endurance training on gait, balance, fall risk, and health services use in community-living older adults

David M. Buchner, M. Elaine Cress, Barbara J. De Lateur, Peter C. Esselman, Anthony J. Margherita, Robert Price, Edward H. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background. The study tested the effect of strength and endurance training on gait, balance, physical health status, fall risk, and health services use in older adults. Methods. The study was a single-blinded, randomized controlled trial with intention-to-treat analysis. Adults (n = 105) age 68-85 with at least mild deficits in strength and balance were selected from a random sample of enrollees in a health maintenance organization. The intervention was supervised exercise (1-h sessions, three per week, for 24-26 weeks), followed by self-supervised exercise. Exercise groups included strength training using weight machines (n = 25), endurance training using bicycles (n = 25), and strength and endurance training (n = 25). Study outcomes included gait tests, balance tests, physical health status measures, self-reported falls (up to 25 months of follow-up), and inpatient and outpatient use and costs. Results. There were no effects of exercise on gait, balance, or physical health status. Exercise had a protective effect on risk of falling (relative hazard = .53, 95% CI = .30- .91). Between 7 and 18 months after randomization, control subjects had more outpatient clinic visits (p < .06) and were more likely to sustain hospital costs over $5000 (p < .05). Conclusions. Exercise may have beneficial effects on fall rates and health care use in some subgroups of older adults. In community-living adults with mainly mild impairments in gait, balance, and physical health status, short-term exercise may not have a restorative effect on these impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M218-M224
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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