One of the most frightening aspects of aging is the prospect of physical frailty and mental decline. Sadly, these outcomes are common among elderly people and often lead to disability, hospitalization, and untimely death.
But don’t despair! Not only are these specters of aging avoidable, but they are also reversible after onset. It’s never too late to make changes to your diet, physical activity levels, and lifestyle that can radically improve your health, quality of life, and even your longevity.
Today we’ll look at a remarkable study that outlines a course of action to successfully reverse physical frailty in the elderly. And Savers will be glad to know that the practices researchers describe are very similar to the actionable steps in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Risks Of Physical Frailty
Physical frailty is commonly defined as a combination of weakness, slowness, weight loss, exhaustion, and reduced physical activity. This state, common among the elderly, has numerous negative effects, since it greatly increases the chances of hospitalization, functional disability, and earlier death.1
Cognitive impairment paired with physical frailty is unfortunately common, because physical frailty greatly increases the probability of cognitive impairment.1
These hard truths make the search for ways to prevent and reverse physical frailty pressing. Thankfully, the research has proved fruitful.
Study Shows How To Reverse Physical Frailty
A study led by Associate Professor Ng Tze Pin of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the National University of Singapore compared the effects of nutritional, physical, and cognitive interventions- both individually and combined- on frailty reversal among older adults in a randomized controlled trial.1
This scientifically rigorous study included five parallel groups of 246 prefrail and frail Singaporeans in community living with a mean age of 70 years. Each of the five groups underwent a six-month intervention consisting of:
- Nutritional supplementation
- Cognitive training
- Physical training
- Combination treatment
- Usual care control
At month 0, 3, 6, and 12 every participant was assessed for their frailty score, body mass index, knee extension strength, gait speed, energy/vitality, physical activity levels, and secondary outcomes like daily living dependency, hospitalizations, and falls.
Dr. Tze Pin Ng found that all groups saw an improvement in frailty score and status over the year, including the control group, but the results were significantly more positive in groups that received supplementation or training. The most significant improvement was found in the combination treatment group.1
This study found that nutritional supplementation, cognitive training, physical training, and especially the combination of all three significantly decreases frailty in older adults.
How To Reduce And Prevent Frailty
The outcomes were good, so now let’s look at the protocols followed by the participants that successfully and consistently created those positive results.
Nutritional Supplementation was given daily for 24 weeks. It was designed to augment caloric intake by 20% and provide about a third of the daily allowance of essential vitamins and minerals. The supplements included:
All of these nutrients except iron are Foundation Supplements. If you took this list out of context, you might think it was specifically formulated for bone health! That’s indicative of how important bone health is for overall health, and how interlinked our body systems are.
Physical Intervention in the study consisted of exercises of moderate, gradually increasing intensity tailored to each participant's abilities. Here are some detailed descriptions of their exercise routine:
- 90 minutes in duration
- 2 days per week for 12 weeks with a professional trainer
- Then 2 days per week for 12 weeks at home
- Performed in groups of 8-10
- Designed to improve strength and balance
- 8-15 maximum repetitions of exercises
Regular exercise that builds strength and balance is a core tenet of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Leading experts, including the authors of this study, concur that weekly exercise can be concentrated into big sessions (like the 90-minute workouts in this study) or spread out over multiple days. Either way, the results are clear: increased strength, improved balance, and reduced frailty- all of which are common sense ways to avoid fracture.
Cognitive Training consisted of 12 weeks attending 2-hour weekly sessions where participants “engaged in cognitive-enhancing activities designed to stimulate short-term memory, and enhance attention and information-processing skills, and reasoning and problem-solving abilities.”1 For the following 12 weeks, they attended 2-hour “booster” sessions every other week where they reviewed the skills from the first 12 weeks.
These activities included:
- Learning strategies used to recall verbal and visual information
- “Spot the differences” puzzles
- Categorical naming tasks
- Coding used to enhance attention and processing speed
- Matrix reasoning exercises
- Tangram-like games that enhance reasoning and problem-solving abilities
This intervention effectively reduced frailty, and interestingly, also increased lower limb strength. Both of those outcomes are positive for bone health, and keeping a sharp mind is definitely essential when it comes to making smart choices about your health.
If the mental component of reducing frailty at first seems less related to bone health, consider this: a study from the University of Nebraska has established a relationship between bone loss and depression. 2 Our mind is a part of our body too, and its health impacts the health of our whole being.
Study researchers enhanced participants’ diets with nutrients that are Foundation Supplements, provided them with physical training that resembles the Save Institute’s exercise recommendations, and engaged them in cognitive training to improve memory, reasoning, processing and problem-solving. Together and separately, these interventions prevented and reversed frailty.
Don’t Fear Aging: Take Action To Make Your Late Years Strong Ones
Instead of worrying about the effects of aging, put what you’ve learned today into practice. Follow a healthy pH-balanced nutritional plan and take bone-healthy supplements. Call up a friend and start exercising together- pick a weight-bearing activity and practice moves that increase bone density. And get in the habit of playing puzzle games or join a game group.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
There are so many ways to improve your health and your quality of life! Don’t forget that when you’re doing good for your body, the benefits are widespread and compounding. We have enormous power to shape our future, no matter what our present looks like.
Till next time,
1 Ng TP. et al, “Nutritional, Physical, Cognitive, and Combination Interventions and Frailty Reversal Among Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Am J Med. 2015 Nov;128(11):1225-1236.e1. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26159634 PDF: https://www.nuhs.edu.sg/wbn/slot/u3691/Faculty%20Scholarly%20Activity/4.%20PD.pdf
2 Mollard E, Bilek L, Waltman N. “Emerging evidence on the link between depressive symptoms and bone loss in postmenopausal women.” International Journal of Women’s Health. 28 December 2017 Volume 2018:10 Pages 1—9. Web. https://www.dovepress.com/emerging-evidence-on-the-link-between-depressive-symptoms-and-bone-los-peer-reviewed-article-IJWH