(HealthDay News) — For older women, exercise is associated with reductions in the rate of injurious falls and injured fallers, according to a study published online March 23 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Kirsti Uusi-Rasi, PhD, from the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Tampere, Finland, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of targeted exercise training and vitamin D supplementation in reducing falls among older women. Participants included 409 home-dwelling women, aged 70–80 years, who were randomized to four study groups: placebo without exercise, vitamin D without exercise, placebo and exercise, and vitamin D and exercise.

The researchers observed no reduction in falls with either exercise or vitamin D in intent-to-treat analysis. Per 100 person-years, fall rates were 118.2 for placebo without exercise, 132.1 for vitamin D without exercise, 120.7 for placebo with exercise, and 113.1 for vitamin D with exercise; injurious fall rates were 13.2, 12.9, 6.5, and 5.0, respectively. Exercisers with and without vitamin D had significantly lower hazard ratios for injured fallers (0.38 and 0.47, respectively). Exercise improved muscle strength and balance, while vitamin D had no positive impact on physical functioning.

“The rate of injurious falls and injured fallers more than halved with strength and balance training in home-dwelling older women, while neither exercise nor vitamin D affected the rate of falls,” the authors write.

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