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Sports Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 143–149 | Cite as

Exercise-Based Fall Prevention in the Elderly: What About Agility?

  • Lars Donath
  • Jaap van Dieën
  • Oliver Faude
Current Opinion

Abstract

Annually, one in three seniors aged over 65 years fall. Balance and strength training can reduce neuromuscular fall risk factors and fall rates. Besides conventional balance and strength training, explosive or high-velocity strength training, eccentric exercises, perturbation-based balance training, trunk strength, and trunk control have also been emphasized. In contrast, aerobic exercise has to date not been included in fall-prevention studies. However, well-developed endurance capacity might attenuate fatigue-induced declines in postural control in sports-related or general activities of daily living. Physical performance indices, such as balance, strength, and endurance, are generally addressed independently in exercise guidelines. This approach seems time consuming and may impede integrative training of sensorimotor, neuromuscular, and cardiocirculatory functions required to deal with balance-threatening situations in the elderly. An agility-based conceptual training framework comprising perception and decision making (e.g., visual scanning, pattern recognition, anticipation) and changes of direction (e.g., sudden starts, stops and turns; reactive control; concentric and eccentric contractions) might enable an integrative neuromuscular, cardiocirculatory, and cognitive training. The present paper aims to provide a scientific sketch of how to build such an integrated modular training approach, allowing adaptation of intensity, complexity, and cognitive challenge of the agility tasks to the participant’s capacity. Subsequent research should address the (1) link between agility and fall risk factors as well as fall rates, (2) benefit–risk ratios of the proposed approach, (3) psychosocial aspects of agility training (e.g., motivation), and (4) logistical requirements (e.g., equipment needed).

Keywords

Strength Training Eccentric Exercise Fall Risk Fall Prevention Balance Training 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This article was written according to the ethical standards of scientific writing and publishing.

Funding

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Lars Donath, Jaap van Dieën, and Oliver Faude declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the contents of this review.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sport, Exercise and HealthUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, Faculty of Human Movement SciencesVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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