Exercising to Music May Lower Risk of Falling
Music is universal, used by people around the world and throughout history for recreational, cultural, religious and educational purposes. Most of us enjoy music without realizing what a powerful health tool it is.
Today, modern brain imaging allows neurologists to study the effect of music on the human brain. These medical researchers and musicologists are teaming up to understand the interrelationship between music and wellness. In previous issues of Caring Right at Home, we’ve seen that music can:
- Reduce stress, anxiety and depression;
- Help people with dementia access memories;
- Comfort hospice patients and their families;
- Decrease pain from arthritis and osteoporosis; and,
- Improve mobility in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Many of us also use music for an energy boost while we exercise. Now, as reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a new study demonstrates that combining music with physical activity can reduce the fall risk of seniors.
Researchers from University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine of Geneva, Switzerland, noted, “Each year, one-third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall, and half fall repeatedly. Exercise can counteract key risk factors for falls, such as poor balance, and consequently reduce the risk of falling." They designed a study to investigate whether adding music to an exercise program could enhance its fall-preventive effects.
The researchers assigned a group of older adult participants to take part in a once-a-week exercise program using music and a wide range of movements to improve the body’s balance-control system. The seniors, whose average age was 75, walked in time to piano music, responding to changes in the music’s rhythm. As the sessions progressed, the exercises became more challenging. At the end of the study, participants demonstrated improved balance and walking skills—and their fall rate had decreased by more than 50 percent.
In this study, exercise and music turned out to be natural partners in combating the danger of senior falls. Study author Dr. Andrea Trombetti said, "Our findings suggest that this program may be useful for fall prevention and rehabilitation in community-based settings such as senior centers."
Sept. 18 – 24, 2011, is Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Visit the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence to find out more.
For more information about lowering fall risk, read "Home Care Helps Protect Seniors Against Falls" in the January 2010 issue of Caring Right at Home.
Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care services.