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Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth health authority has recognised the importance of encouraging older people to take part in physical activity and included this in its health improvement programme.

'One of our objectives is to prevent the incidence, or reduce the consequences, of falls among older people, and one of the main ways of achieving this is through exercise,' says physical activity adviser Piers Simey.

The HA is about to pilot exercises which improve balance and strength, targeted at people who are at risk of falling. 'We hope to be able to improve their risk factors within six months,' says Mr Simey. 'We also want to promote exercise as something which can improve older people's quality of life.'