Earlier life leisure-time physical activity in relation to age-related frailty syndrome

Laura Kolehmainen, Satu Havulinna, Tiia Ngandu, Timo Strandberg, Esko Levälahti, Jenni Lehtisalo, Riitta Antikainen, Elina Hietikko, Markku Peltonen, Auli Pölönen, Hilkka Soininen, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Tiina Laatikainen, Rainer Rauramaa, Miia Kivipelto, Jenni Kulmala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


BACKGROUND: frailty syndrome is common amongst older people. Low physical activity is part of frailty, but long-term prospective studies investigating leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) during the life course as a predictor of frailty are still warranted. The aim of this study is to investigate whether earlier life LTPA predicts frailty in older age.

METHODS: the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) included older adults (aged 60-77 years) from the general population who were at increased risk of cognitive decline. Frailty was assessed for 1,137 participants at a baseline visit using a modified version of Fried's phenotype, including five criteria: weight loss, exhaustion, weakness, slowness and low physical activity. Self-reported data on earlier life LTPA were available from previous population-based studies (average follow-up time 13.6 years). A binomial logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the association between earlier life LTPA and pre-frailty/frailty in older age.

RESULTS: the prevalence of frailty and pre-frailty was 0.8% and 27.3%, respectively. In the analyses, pre-frail and frail groups were combined. People who had been physically very active (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.23-0.60) or moderately active (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.32-0.65) earlier in life had lower odds of becoming pre-frail/frail than individuals who had been sedentary.

CONCLUSIONS: frailty was rare in this relatively healthy study population, but almost a third of the participants were pre-frail. Earlier life LTPA was associated with lower levels of pre-frailty/frailty. The results highlight the importance of physical activity when aiming to promote healthy old age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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