Efficacy of physical exercise in preventing falls in older adults with cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Wai Chi Chan, Wing Fai Yeung, Corine Sau Man Wong, Linda Chiu Wa Lam, Ka Fai Chung, James Ka Hay Luk, Jenny Shun Wah Lee, Andrew Chi Kin Law

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Numerous studies have reported the prevention of falls through exercise among cognitively healthy older people. This study aimed to determine whether the current evidence supports that physical exercise is also efficacious in preventing falls in older adults with cognitive impairment. Methods: Two independent reviewers searched MEDLINE; EMBASE; PsycINFO; the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials; the Cochrane Bone, Joint, and Muscle Trauma Group Specialized Register; ClinicalTrials.gov; and the UK Clinical Research Network Study Portfolio up to July 2013 without language restriction. We included randomized controlled trials that examined the efficacy of physical exercise in older adults with cognitive impairment. The methodological qualities of the included trials were appraised according to the criteria developed for the Cochrane review of fall prevention trials. The primary outcome measure was the rate ratio of falls. A meta-analysis was performed to estimate the pooled rate ratio and summarize the results of the trials on fall prevention through physical exercise. Results: Seven randomized controlled trials involving 781 participants were included, 4 of which examined solely older people with cognitive impairment. Subgroup data on persons with cognitive impairment were obtained from the other 3 trials that targeted older populations in general. The meta-analysis showed that physical exercise had a significant effect in preventing falls in older adults with cognitive impairment, with a pooled estimate of rate ratio of 0.68 (95% confidence interval 0.51-0.91). Conclusions: The present analysis suggests that physical exercise has a positive effect on preventing falls in older adults with cognitive impairment. Further studies will be required to determine the modality and frequency of exercise that are optimal for the prevention of falls in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Accident prevention
  • Accidental falls
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Dementia
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy

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