The role of “non-traditional” physical activities in improving balance in older adults: A review

Cheryl Louise Blewitt, Nachiappan Chockalingam

Abstract

Recent research indicates that the number of people aged over 60 years is rising faster than any other age group which will put increased financial and social strains on all countries. One major focus of various health and social care agencies is not only to keep these older individuals healthy but also physically active and independent. Many older people lead inactive lives which together with the aging process lead to physiological changes which have potentially damaging effects on balance control and are risk factors for falls. Research shows that physical activity improves mental health, often stimulates social contacts and can help older people remain as independent as possible. This paper has attempted to review existing research on physical activities and exercise intervention used to improve balance in older adults. Using relevant databases and keywords, 68 studies that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. Results indicate that many traditional activities can help to improve balance in older adults. However, further investigations need to be conducted into activities that are not generally considered appropriate for older people but may be enjoyable and have health benefits and may help to improve balance in this population.


Keywords

Physical activity; Exercise; Older adults; Healthy ageing; Balance

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2017.122.21