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For Elderly Women, Exercise (Not Vitamin D) Is the Key to Reducing Injuries From Falls

Photo: lider-ci.orgThe risk of serious injury as a result of falling is cut by more than half when elderly women engage in regular exercise, according to a new Finnish study.

However, routine exercise or vitamin D supplementation does not lower the overall risk for accidental falls among older women, according to research published Monday at JAMA Internal Medicine.

Investigators looked at over 400 women between the ages of 70 and 80. The women lived at home in Finland during the study period between 2010 and 2013, and none were deficient in vitamin D prior to the study.

Participants were divided into four groups: a vitamin D only group; a vitamin D with exercise group; an exercise only group; and a group that neither exercised nor took vitamin D.

The dosage of vitamin D was 800 IUs daily and those that exercise followed a weekly regimen under a physical therapist for two years. The classes focused on improving balance, strength, agility, movement, and the ability to lift weight.

The findings showed that the risk of falling were the same for the women across the four categories; however, those under supervised physical training had a dramatically lower risk for serious injury when falls did happen. Serious injuries are defined as fall that results in having to seek medical care for bruising, abrasions, contusions, sprains, fractures and/or head injuries.

“Exercise improves functionality,” said lead study author Kirsti Uusi-Rasi, a senior researcher and adjunct professor with the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Tampere, Finland. “Exercise seemed to be more effective in reducing injurious falls in this age group, with or without vitamin D.”

This is a surprising revelation, as previous studies have shown Vitamin D to be effective in preventing falls. But one should not write off vitamin D yet. There is still more research needed on the full potential of vitamin benefits.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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