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The effects of exercising with the Swiss ball on balance in the elderly

1 May 1996


More people are living longer. In fact, it is anticipated that 13% of the population will be 65 years or older by the turn of the century. As people get older they tend to fall more often. Falls contribute to increased health care costs. In recent years, a considerable amount of attention has been given to the prevention of falls. A cost efficient and preventative type of intervention is group classes. Swiss ball exercises can be incorporated into an inexpensive, enjoyable, and effective group program.

This study posed the question: Will an exercise program using Swiss balls affect balance in an elderly population? A six week program, consisting of three 30 minute sessions each week, was implemented at a local retirement center. The study compared balance measurements between two groups, control and experimental, both before and after the exercise program. The study also examined the correlation between two clinical tesets, the Get Up and Go (GUG) and the Functional Reach Test (FR), with an objective measurement of balance, the Chattecx Balance System (CBS). The results showed no significant difference (p < .05) between the two groups or between the three balance instruments. However, many participants reported subjective improvements such as decreased pain, increased flexibility, increased mobility, and improved posture which may lead to better functional balance.


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