Art, Music, DanceBone FractureElderlyExercise

Dalcroze eurhythmics reduces falls in the elderly

Falls occur mainly while walking or performing concurrent tasks.

Researcher in Switzerland studied whether a music-based multitask exercise program (Dalcroze eurhythmics) improves gait and balance and reduces fall risk in elderly individuals.

First, the details.

  • 134 community-dwelling adults older than 65 years at increased risk of falling were randomly assigned to treatment group for 1 year.
    • Exercise group: A 6-month multitask exercise program performed to the rhythm of piano music.
    • Control group: Scheduled to start the program 6 months later.
  • Besides footwork, participants sometimes had to perform upper-body movements or work with some object, like a percussion instrument or a ball, while moving — dual-task.

And, the results.

  • At 6 months, the exercise group showed greater improvement in balance and walking vs the control group.
  • The exercise group was also half as likely to fall vs the control group.
    • There were 24 falls in the exercise group (less than 1 fall per person per year) vs 54 in the delayed-intervention group (1.6 falls per person per year).
  • Similar changes occurred when the control group started their exercise program 6 months later.
  • The benefit on gait variability was still present 6 months later.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “In community-dwelling older people at increased risk of falling, a 6-month music-based multitask exercise program improved gait under dual-task condition, improved balance, and reduced both the rate of falls and the risk of falling.”

A recent review of the research in this field, which was co-authored by 1 of researchers in this study, concluded; “Rhythmic movement training such as… Dalcroze eurhythmics, tai chi, and social dancing can improve gait regularity and automaticity, thus increasing gait safety and reducing fall risk.”

Other studies supporting tai chi (here) and dance (here).

11/24/10 17:48 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.