Background: The purpose of the present study was to determine whether a synergistic exercise model based on aerobics with additional fall-preventive components could provide extra benefits compared with the same duration of aerobic-synergistic exercise alone. METHODS: A total of 102 adults aged 65 years and over from three geographically separated communities were assigned to three groups: The general aerobic exercise (GAE) group (N.=44), the GAE plus ball game group (BG group; N.=30) and the GAE plus square-stepping exercise group (SSE group; N.=28). Each group participated in one hour of exercise intervention and two hours of leisure activities twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each exercise session consisted of one hour of combined exercises performed in the following order: 10 minutes of warm-up activities, 20 minutes of aerobics, 20 minutes of the respective exercise model, and 10 minutes of cool-down activities. Functional fitness tests, including aerobic endurance, leg strength, flexibility, reaction time, static balance and mobility, were measured before and after the intervention. Paired t-Tests and mixed model analyses were conducted to compare the differences in each measurement within and among the groups. RESULTS: All of the groups exhibited significantly positive effects (P<0.05), including improvements in aerobic endurance, leg muscle strength, static balance, and mobility, after the intervention. There were no significant differences in these improvements in the other two groups compared with group GAE. However, group BG and group SSE showed significantly greater improvements in mobility compared with group GAE (P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that a combination of aerobics and selected fall-prevention exercises performed over a consistent period may improve mobility without compromising the fundamental benefits of aerobics. Future studies using randomized control trials with recorded fall events and a longer period of follow-up are indicated to validate the effects of fall prevention exercises.
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