Preventing falls in older adults is at the forefront of our national health agendas, as seen by the development of the Falls Free® National Action Plan by the National Council on Aging, and the Center for Healthy Aging. Research has shown that an exercise program that includes aerobics, strengthening, and balance components is effective in preventing falls in older adults. The “Stay Active & Independent for Life” (SAIL) Program is an evidence-based intervention for prevention of falls. The SAIL Program includes a fitness class designed specifically for older adults, as well as self-assessments and educational materials.


The Senior Falls Prevention Study is conducted by primary research investigators Anne Shumway-Cook, Ilene Silver, Mary LeMier, Sally York, Peter Cummings, and Thomas Koepsell with funding from the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 453 adults 65 years of age and older in two counties in Washington State participate in this 12 month program. Participants receive a risk assessment by a registered nurse, falls prevention education, and a group exercise class that includes aerobics, balance exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises.


The Washington State Department of Health sponsors research in social marketing to determine how to translate the results of the Senior Falls Prevention Study into community-based intervention programs. Focus groups reveal key factors that motivate older adults to participate in exercise programs: to stay active, to stay independent, and to prevent falls. The researchers learn that older adults respond poorly to the “fall prevention” message; and that the best way to engage older adults in exercise programs is to convey a message of “staying active and independent”.


SAIL Program Leader training is developed by Anne Shumway-Cook, PhD, PT, Sally York, MN, RN and Clare Morrison, MCSPT. The Washington State Department of Health provides funding for numerous onsite two-day classes that are held throughout Washington State.


Primary researchers Sally York, MN, RN, Anne Shumway-Cook, PhD, PT, Clare Morrison, MCSPT, and Ilene Silver conduct a Translational Research Evaluation to examine the dissemination and implementation of the SAIL Program in the community. Six SAIL Program sites in four communities in Washington State were examined to determine levels of attendance and physical function. In addition, participants completed surveys regarding their improvements in performing their daily activities.


The results of the Senior Falls Prevention Study are published in the Journal of Gerontology. The results of this study showed that the participants demonstrated improved balance, mobility skills, and leg strength. Fear of falling was reduced among participants.
Read the study here


The onsite two-day SAIL Program Leader training is adapted into an online format by Blake Surina, Exercise Physiologist, and Laurie Swan, PhD, DPT, PT. The class is now taught in a 10-week online format through Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.


The onsite two-day SAIL Program Leader training is updated and revised by Laurie Swan, PhD, DPT, PT. Successful completion of this class enables appropriately credentialed professionals to be ready to set up and lead a SAIL Program in their community. The Department of Health, State of Washington continues to support SAIL by providing funds for onsite trainings in Washington State.


The results of the Translational Research Evaluation are published in Health Promotion Practice. Participants demonstrated improved physical function that directly correlated with their self-reported improvements in performing everyday tasks of daily living. This publication firmly establishes “Stay Active and Independent for Life” as an evidence-based intervention for preventing falls in the elderly population.
Read the evaluation here


A website presence is established for SAIL, and national dissemination begins.

SAIL is recognized as a Title IIID Evidence-based Health Promotion Program by the Administration on Aging.


The Administration for Community Living announces that two of their Evidence-Based Falls Prevention grants will go to organizations that are using the SAIL Program as part of their interventions to reduce falls in their communities.

Marymount University Malek School of Health Professions, in partnership with Inova Health System, Goodwin House, and other key stakeholders, plan to build and maintain a regionally integrated Northern Virginia Falls Prevention Network to implement and sustain three evidence-based falls prevention programs. The SAIL Program is one of these three programs. Click here for more information about this grant.

The Mescalero Apache Tribe plans to implement an outreach, education and engagement campaign focused on physical activity for adults 65+. The SAIL Program will be used as the evidence-based physical activity program. Click here for more information about this grant.


The SAIL online training that is offered through Pierce College undergoes a continuous improvement process for assuring the quality of the online course through a faculty review. An extensive internal review was conducted by a team of three Quality Matters certified Peer Reviewers, including a Master Reviewer, for the 21 Essential Quality Matters Standards. This recognition provides assurance that the online class is easy to navigate, and that the course objectives are met by the activities that students complete throughout the class.

What’s ahead? As we continue our efforts for widespread dissemination of the SAIL Program, we are also developing further research agendas. If you want to establish a SAIL Program in your community, or if you are interested in conducting a research project using the SAIL Program, we want to hear from you!