Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 85–94 | Cite as

Effects of physical training on aerobic capacity in frail elderly people (75+ years). Influence of lung capacity, cardiovascular disease and medical drug treatment: a randomized controlled pilot trial

  • Elisabeth Rydwik
  • Thomas Gustafsson
  • Kerstin Frändin
  • Gunnar Akner


Background and aims: Frail elderly people often suffer from a combination of unintentional weight loss and/or low body mass index, as well as a low physical activity level. No studies have investigated the effect of physical training alone or in combination with nutritional intervention on aerobic capacity in frail elderly people. The aim of this pilot study was to determine if a physical training program can affect aerobic capacity in frail elderly people. Methods: Ninety-six community-dwelling frail elderly people (58 women) were included in the study. Subjects were randomized to four different groups: i) physical training program (aerobic, muscle strength, balance), ii) a nutritional intervention program (individually targeted advice and group sessions), iii) a combination of these interventions, and iv) a control group. At baseline, subjects were screened for aerobic capacity, leg muscle strength, spirometry, heart disease and cardiovascular drugs. Aerobic capacity and leg muscle strength were analyzed immediately after the 3-month intervention period (1st follow-up), and after another 6 months (2nd follow-up). Results: Subjects mean age was 83 years. The mean compliance rate with the physical training program was 65%. There were no observed effects on aerobic capacity measured as maximal workload, or work time, with or without ?-receptor blockade. Subjects in the training groups without lung disease significantly increased maximal work time when compared with subjects with lung disease. Physical training significantly increased lower extremity muscle strength compared with nutrition alone at the 1st follow-up. No serious adverse events occurred during assessment or physical training. Conclusions: Further studies with larger sample sizes and a more specific aerobic component in the training program are necessary before any further conclusions can be drawn.


Aerobic capacity bicycle ergometry frail physical training spirometry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Internal Publishing Switzerland 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Rydwik
    • 1
  • Thomas Gustafsson
    • 2
  • Kerstin Frändin
    • 3
  • Gunnar Akner
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Unit for the Elderly, North, Jakobsbergs HospitalKarolinska InstitutetJärfällaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Laboratory Medicine, Division of Clinical Physiology, Karolinska InstitutetKarolinska University HospitalHuddingeSweden
  3. 3.Department of Neurobiology, Caring Sciences and Society, Division of PhysiotherapyKarolinska InstitutetHuddingeSweden
  4. 4.Department of Geriatric MedicineÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden

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