One of the biggest challenges we face as we get older is maintaining our independence and ability to do day-to-day tasks.
Our ability to perform ‘Activities of Daily Living’ (also referred to as ADLs) is influenced by our health. One particular area of health that can diminish with age is the ability to avoid falling – our risk of falling over increases as we age. Two factors that influence our ability to avoid falls are balance and strength. So it makes sense that as we get older we should do all that we can to maintain – or even improve – our strength and balance. This in turn can increase our confidence as we go about our every day life, which means we can stay active and independent!
… our risk of falling over increases as we age…
The best way to do this is with targeted strength and balance exercise – and that’s where the ‘OTAGO Exercise Programme’ (or OEP) comes into play!
Originally designed as a home exercise programme, OEP is named after the University of Otago in New Zealand where it was designed and first researched in 1997 (1) Since then, OEP has been evaluated in numerous scientific studies and been found to be highly effective in preventing falls and mortality in later life (2,3), as well as improving performance in balance (1) and strength tests (4), executive functioning (5) and mental health in participants (6).
The OEP can be lead by a range of health professionals, including nurses, physiotherapists and exercise instructors. They can also be delivered as part of a one-to-one home-based programme, or in community groups. However, the research evidence indicates that the group classes produce better outcomes than the home-based approach (7).
OEP requires the participants to take part in at least one class per week and to complete home-based exercises twice a week. There is also a graduated walking component of the programme, which is completed under the guidance of the instructor. Each class lasts around 45 minutes and should usually accommodate up to 8 participants. There are over 22 exercises involved in the programme, but only 5 to 10 will be covered in each class. The exercises focus on challenging the strength, balance and flexibility of the participants, which results in improvements in each of these areas of performance over time. While it is possible to see significant benefits in just 12 weeks (3 months), it has been shown through research that OEP has the greatest impact over a 12 month period.
If you would like to know more about OTAGO exercise classes delivered by Move Well Clinic in Northampton or Stourbridge CLICK HERE to email Fiona at Move Well Clinic via the ‘Contact’ page.
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- Campbell, A.J., Robertson, M.C., Gardner, M.M., Norton, R.N., Tilyard, M.W. and Buchner, D.M. (1997). Randomised controlled trial of a general practice programme of home based exercise to prevent falls in elderly women. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 315(7115): 1065.
- Sherrington, C., Fairhall, N.J., Wallbank, G.K., Tiedemann, A., Michaleff, Z.A., Howard, K., Clemson, L., Hopewell, and S., Lamb, S.E. (2019). Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012424.pub2.
- Thomas, S., Mackintosh, S. and Halbert, J., (2010). Does the ‘Otago exercise programme’ reduce mortality and falls in older adults?: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Age and Ageing, 39(6):681-687.
- Kovacs, E., Tóth, K., Dénes, L., Valasek, T., Hazafi, K., Molnár, G. and Fehér-Kiss, A. (2012). Effects of exercise programs on balance in older women with age-related visual problems: a pilot study. Archives of gerontology and geriatrics, 55(2):446-452.
- Liu‐Ambrose, T., Donaldson, M.G., Ahamed, Y., Graf, P., Cook, W.L., Close, J., Lord, S.R. and Khan, K.M. (2008). Otago home‐based strength and balance retraining improves executive functioning in older fallers: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 56(10): 1821-1830.
- Kerse, N., Hayman, K.J., Moyes, S.A., Peri, K., Robinson, E., Dowell, A., Kolt, G.S., Elley, C.R., Hatcher, S., Kiata, L. and Wiles, J. (2010). Home-based activity program for older people with depressive symptoms: DeLLITE–a randomized controlled trial. The Annals of Family Medicine, 8(3):214-223.
- Kyrdalen, I.L., Moen, K., Røysland, A.S. and Helbostad, J.L. (2014). The Otago exercise program performed as group training versus home training in fall‐prone older people: A randomized controlled trial. Physiotherapy Research International, 19(2):108-116.