Study: Seniors reduce falls risk with music-movement class

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Having seniors who are at an increased risk for falling take part in classes that involve music and rhythmic exercise may improve their balance and walking skills. An added benefit is it could help reduce the number of falls in this group, according to new research out of Switzerland.

More than 130 seniors were tested in walking and balance skills after taking part in a music-education program called Dalcroze eurhythmics. Participants, all of whom had a history of problems with falls, fell fewer times over the test period. Greater improvements occurred in the test group that took the class once a week for six months. (A control group performed its normal activities for six months and  did the exercises six months later.) The program involves free-form movement to improvised piano music and gradually adds elements of movement and manipulation of another item(s).

Study participants who took the classes in the first half of the study continued to show improvement in balance and walking ability six months after the study ended. The findings suggest that social dancing or other activities that challenge balance and require continuous adjustments to the environment could have a positive effect on older adults, according to the lead researcher Dr. Andrea Trombetti. Findings were reported in Monday's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.