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EASY STEPS to Health

Physical activity is a recommended strategy for preventing falls among older adults living in the community. Walking is an activity that can be done by most people, anywhere, anytime, at no cost. However, despite having many health benefits, there is little evidence to show whether walking reduces the risk of falling for this group.

EASY STEPS to health is a randomised controlled trial designed to help older adults achieve the recommended level of physical activity needed for health. The study investigated whether a 12-month, self-guided walking program could reduce the risk of falling among this group.

The Health Promotion Service conducted this study of sedentary adults aged 65 years and older living in Sydney Local Health District and South Western Sydney Local Health District. Participants were randomly allocated to either an intervention group or control group. Those in the intervention group completed a 12-month walking program with four steps:

Step 1. Walk more, sit less
Step 2. Walk longer
Step 3. Pick up the pace
Step 4. A lifestyle of walking.

The program was flexible and participants set a walking routine to suit them. To help them stay on track, they were given the EASY STEPS to health walking manual, a pedometer, and received regular phone calls from the study team.

The control group waited 12 months before starting their walking program. Both groups used a monthly calendar to record walking and any falls they had.

Partners in this study included NSW Health, the Cluster for Physical Activity and Health, Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, The University of Sydney and the NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre. The study was funded by NSW Health through the Health Promotion Demonstration Research Grant Scheme.