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The Effects Of Exercise On Strength And Physical Performance In Frail Older People: A Systematic Review

Katharine CM Nash

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SummaryThe proportion of older people becoming frail will increase with the expanding older population. Apart from poor health, frailty is associated with loss of strength and functional dependency. Building on previous work in this area, this review investigates the effectiveness, sustainability and adverse effects of exercise interventions on muscle strength and physical performance in frail older people. Randomized controlled trials reporting physical outcomes in frail older people were identified from seven electronic databases. Thirteen trials involving 1652 participants met the inclusion criteria. There was wide heterogeneity in degree of frailty, types of intervention, outcome measures and results. However, evidence from this review suggests that exercise and some physical activity programmes, particularly moderate intensity and multi-component programmes, are safe and can improve strength and function in the majority of frail older people except highly frail individuals with multiple co-morbidities. There was limited evidence on transferability of improvements into everyday life, and sustainability could not be determined.