The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


The relationship between clinical markers of frailty and measured physical activity using accelerometers: Results of a SAGE sub-study among older adults in India

MELISSA A. LIEBERT1, J. JOSH SNODGRASS1, TARA J. CEPON-ROBINS1, THERESA E. GILDNER1, ARVIND MATHUR2, SHARON R. WILLIAMS3,4, PAUL KOWAL5,6 and SOMNATH CHATTERJI5.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, 2Dr SN Medical College, India, 3Department of Anthropology, Purdue University, 4American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC, 5World Health Organization, Switzerland, 6Research Centre on Gender, Health, and Ageing, University of Newcastle (Australia)

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Frailty is common in old age and increases risks of adverse health outcomes. However, few studies have examined frailty across countries, and even fewer have evaluated the relationship between markers of frailty and measured physical activity among older adults in non-Western settings. The present study examines associations between measured activity (total daily energy expenditure [TDEE], physical activity level [PAL], activity counts [AC], activity energy expenditure [AEE]) and clinical markers of frailty (grip strength, self-reported exhaustion, timed walking speed) among 200 older adults in urban India as part of a sub-study of the World Health Organization’s Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE). Participants wore ActiGraph GT3X accelerometers for seven consecutive days, combined with pre- and post-health interviews.

Results indicate that men had higher TDEE levels than women (P < 0.001). Self-report exhaustion differed significantly by sex (P = 0.001), with 87.3% of men and 66.1% of women reporting none/mild exhaustion whereas 12.7% of men and 33.9% of women reported moderate/severe exhaustion. For men, grip strength was positively correlated with TDEE, PAL, and AEE (P < 0.05). For women, all physical activity measures were positively correlated with grip strength (P < 0.01), while average walking time was negatively associated with all activity measures (P < 0.001). This study illustrates the utility of using accelerometry to examine the relationship between measured physical activity and factors associated with frailty in aging populations. This area of research provides an opportunity to target modifiable risk factors for frailty with increasing age and chronic diseases.

Support: NIH NIA Interagency Agreement YA1323-08-CN-0020; NIH R01-AG034479

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