The role of nutrition and physical activity in frailty: A review

Maeve Lorraine O'Connell, Cork Institute of Technology
Tara Coppinger, Cork Institute of Technology
Aoife Louise McCarthy, Cork Institute of Technology

© 2019 European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism


Frailty is a clinical syndrome with a worldwide prevalence of 5–27% among those aged over 65 years. Frailty is characterised by loss of muscle strength and impaired physical function, and is associated with increased falls, hospitalisation and death. Nutritional deficiencies and low physical activity are common in this age group due to ill health, disability and reductions in enthusiasm, food intake and therefore, energy availability. Both low physical activity and inadequate dietary intake have a significant role to play in the onset and progression of frailty, primarily through bone and muscle health implications. Frailty is, however, preventable and reversible, and several interventions have been carried out to offset and reverse the condition. This article reports the recent evidence on the role of nutrition and physical activity in the pathogenesis of frailty and provides a critical review of previously implemented interventions focussed on physical activity and nutrition to prevent and reduce frailty among older adults.