LiFE Pilot Study: A randomised trial of balance and strength training embedded in daily life activity to reduce falls in older adults


  • Lindy Clemson PhD; Associate Professor (OccTher). Maria Fiatarone Singh MD. Anita Bundy ScD; Professor. Robert G. Cumming PhD; Professor. Elvina Weissel BAppSc (OT); Chief Occupational Therapist. Jo Munro BAppSc (PT); Research Interventionist. Kate Manollaras Psych (Hons); Research assistant. Deborah Black PhD; Professor, Associate Dean.

Lindy Clemson, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, PO Box 170, Lidcombe, NSW 1825, Australia. Email:


Background: Exercise as a falls prevention strategy is more complex with people at risk than with the general population. The Lifestyle approach to reducing Falls through Exercise (LiFE) involves embedding balance and lower limb strength training in habitual daily routines.

Methods: A total of 34 community-residing people aged ≥70 years were randomised either into the LiFE programme or into a no-intervention control group and followed up for six months. Inclusion criteria were two or more falls or an injurious fall in the past year.

Results: There were 12 falls in the intervention group and 35 in the control group. Therelative risk (RR) analysis demonstrated a significant reduction in falls (RR = 0.23; 0.07–0.83). There were indications that dynamic balance (P = 0.04 at three months) and efficacy beliefs (P = 0.04 at six months) improved for the LiFE programme participants. In general, secondary physical and health status outcomes, which were hypothesised as potential mediators of fall risk, improved minimally and inconsistently.

Conclusions: LiFE was effective in reducing recurrent falls in this at-risk sample. However, there were minimal changes in secondary measures. The study was feasible in terms of recruitment, randomisation, blinding and data collection. A larger randomised trial is needed to investigate long-term efficacy, mechanisms of benefit and clinical significance of this new intervention.