Arkkukangas M, Strömqvist Bååthe K, Ekholm A, Tonkonogi M
Int J Environ Res Public Health 19 (12) - [2022-06-16; online 2022-06-16]
There is limited research on optimal exercise programs that effectively decrease falls and fall-related injuries in older populations. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) aimed to explore the effects of a 12-week Judo4Balance program on falling techniques, physical and psychological functions, health status, and physical activity levels among 200 community-dwelling older adults (79% women and 21% men) with a mean age of 72 years. The 200 participants were randomly allocated for the Judo4Balce program (n = 100) or control group (n = 100). The RCT intervention started in mid-January 2020 and was abruptly interrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A restart of the RCT was initiated in September 2021, and the 12-week intervention was offered to two groups. This study reports the results from three points of assessment: baseline, 20-month follow-up, and 12-week postintervention. At 20 months follow-up, the control group had significantly decreased physical activity levels (summer p = 0.002 and winter p = 0.003); similar changes were not seen in the exercise group. In the exercise group, learning falling techniques in 6-9 weeks led to sustained fall competence at 20 months follow-up. Further, significant improvements in physical function (exercise group p = 0.009 and control group p < 0.001) and learning falling techniques (p < 0.001 for both groups) were noted in both groups after the 12-week intervention. This effective, supervised, group-based, high-challenge multicomponent exercise program needs to be further evaluated for possible impact on falls and fall-related injuries.