MOBILITY, strength, and balance may be improved through exercise. One researcher who is interested in the second investigative approach solicited by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Bethesda, Md) (please see accompanying article on page 2021) is David M. Buchner, MD, associate professor of health services and geriatrics at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Buchner wondered if "disuse atrophy of muscles was contributing to falls," especially in community-living adults. In a prospective cohort study of 149 people followed up for 1 year, he and his colleagues found an association between leg strength and falls in men but not in women (Clin Res. In press. Abstract).
Given this finding, the next question is, "Will the incidence of falls decrease if leg muscles are strengthened?" As part of the NIH prevention initiative, Buchner and colleagues plan to address this question using an intensive exercise program to boost strength and aerobic capacity.