This overview of systematic reviews examined the effect of balance and functional strength training on health outcomes in adults aged 18 years or older, to inform the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines. Four electronic databases were searched for systematic reviews published between January 2009 and May 2019. Eligibility criteria were determined a priori for population (community-dwelling adults), intervention (balance and functional training), comparator (no intervention or different types/doses), and outcomes (critical: falls and fall-related injuries; adverse events; important: physical functioning and disability; health-related quality of life; physical activity; and sedentary behaviour). Two reviewers independently screened studies for eligibility and performed AMSTAR 2 assessment. One review was selected per outcome. Of 3288 records and 355 full-text articles, 5 systematic reviews were included, encompassing data from 15 890 participants in 23 countries. In adults 65 years and older, balance and functional training and Tai Chi reduced the rate of falls and the number of people who fell, and improved aspects of physical functioning and physical activity. The effect on health-related quality of life and falls requiring hospitalization was uncertain. While inconsistently monitored, only 1 serious adverse event was reported. No evidence was available in adults under age 65 years. Included systematic reviews and primary evidence reported by review authors ranged in quality. Overall, participation in balance and functional training reduced falls and improved health outcomes in adults 65 years of age and older. PROSPERO registration no.: CRD42019134865.
Novelty This overview informs updated guidelines for balance training in adults. Balance and functional training reduced falls and improved health outcomes.