Affiliation: Sports Medicine Division, Department of Medicine, University of Padova, Italy.
Investigations on how exercise and physical activity affect dual-task (DT) performance in the elderly are growing rapidly due to the fact that DT activities are commonplace with activities of daily living. Preliminary evidence has shown the benefit in exercise on DT balance, though it is unclear to what extent the effect exercise has on DT performance in elderly subjects with disease conditions, including subjects with a high risk of falls. Hence, the objective of this study was to critically review the existing evidence of a potential relationship between exercise and improvement of static and dynamic balance during DT conditions as well as secondary outcomes in elderly subjects with different disease conditions.
A systematic search using online databases was performed to source documents. Inclusion criteria sourced articles classified as randomized controlled trials (RCT), controlled trials (CT) and uncontrolled trials (UT). Moreover, the studies had to administrate an exercise or physical activity protocol in the intervention. Seventeen studies met the eligibility criteria and were comprised of 12 RCTs, 3 CTs, and 2 UTs.
Overall, 13 studies supported exercise being effective to improve parameters of static and dynamic balance during single or DT conditions. Despite the heterogeneity of pathologic conditions, exercise showed similar benefits to improve function in two main areas: neurological conditions and frailty conditions. The lack of a common method to assess DT performance limited the ability to compare different interventions directly. Future research is warranted to study the optimal dose and exercise modalities to best reduce the risk of falls in the elderly with multiple disease conditions.