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Physical Exercise Is Effective in Combatting Frailty in Older Adults

The prevalence of age-related frailty is high in older adults, ranging from 7% to 16.3%.  The prevention and treatment of frailty has long been a major concern in geriatrics, especially in the clinical medicine.  Frailty is the primary determinant of longevity and quality of life in the older adult population.  Frailty is defined as an age-related, biological syndrome that causes a reduction of biological reserves due to the dysfunction of various physiological systems, which increases an older adult’s vulnerability to minor stressors, and is related to adverse health outcomes (such as disability, hospital admission, and death).  Frailty is a stronger indicator for negative outcomes in older ages than chronic disease.  It is important to note that frailty is reversible in its early stages.  Importantly, a frail person can become nonfrail if frailty is identified and addressed at the onset.

Many studies have examined the benefits of exercise in frail elderly people, but not many have provided recommendations on the appropriate model of an exercise protocol to optimize its beneficial effects in a population of frail older adults.  Thus, a recent study sought to ascertain that older adults who engage in a supervised-facility exercise program experience improvement in frailty, physical and cognitive function, emotional status, social engagement, and biological factors of frailty, when compared with a population who does not engage in the intervention and receive no training.  The exercise training program consisted of 65 minute sessions performed five days per week and lasted for 24 weeks.  Protein-calorie and vitamin D supplementation were controlled in the study due to the fact that nutritional supplementation has been connected to improvements in physical performance in frail elderly people.

The study found that 31.4% of the frail older adults in the intervention group experienced a reverse in frailty after they completed the exercise training program, whereas no participants in the control group experienced a reverse in frailty after the 6-month period.  Specifically, the participants who showed improvements had better gait velocity and overall physical fitness. The study’s results coincided with another study that found that there was a decrease in prevalence of frailty after its physical exercise program was completed.

Furthermore, the participants in the exercise program exhibited a decrease in fat mass.  The researchers also recently found that frailty—not old age—is associated with oxidative stress.  Moreover, the researchers found that protein oxidation is decreased by physical exercise.  Finally, the frailty biomarker, called D-dimer, was found to significantly decrease as a result of the training program.  Therefore, the study’s training program showed that it is effective in treating frailty.

Substantial evidence from studies that focus on ways to treat frailty in older adults, including this one, have shown that physical exercise is the best non-pharmaceutical approach to combating the syndrome.  This finding is especially pertinent to older adults in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, most of whom are extremely frail and vulnerable to falls that result in serious injury.  If you or a someone you love has been a victim of elder abuse or neglect in an assisted living facility or nursing home, such as one in Hidden Hills or Huntington Park, California, contact the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi, today.