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JFSF Vol 5, No 1, March 2020, p.17-23

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-05-017


Original Article

Content of exercise programmes targeting older people with sarcopenia or frailty – findings from a UK survey

Miles D. Witham1, Melody Chawner2, Sarah De Biase3, Natalie Offord4, Oliver Todd5, Andrew Clegg5, Avan A. Sayer1

  1. AGE Research Group, NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, Newcastle, UK
  2. Solent NHS Trust, Portsmouth, UK
  3. AGILE Network, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, London, UK
  4. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  5. Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, University of Leeds, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Bradford, UK

Keywords: Exercise, Frailty, Resistance training, Sarcopenia, Survey


Objectives: To establish whether existing exercise programmes offered to people with sarcopenia or frailty adhere to the current evidence base. Methods: We conducted a national survey of practitioners delivering exercise programmes to older people with sarcopenia or frailty in the UK. The link to the online survey was distributed through email lists of professional societies, practice networks and social media. Questions covered target population and programme aims, type, duration and frequency of exercise, progress assessment and outcome measures. Results: One hundred and thirty-six responses were received. 94% of respondents reported prescribing or delivering exercise programmes to people with sarcopenia or frailty. Most programmes (81/135 [60%]) were primarily designed to prevent or reduce falls. Resistance training was the main focus in only 11/123 (9%), balance training in 61/123 (50%) and functional exercise in 28/123 (23%). Exercise was offered once a week or less by 81/124 (65%) of respondents. Outcome measures suitable for assessing the effect of resistance training programmes were reported by fewer than half of respondents (hand grip: 13/119 [11%]; chair stands: 55/119 [46%]). Conclusions: Current UK exercise programmes offered to older people with sarcopenia or frailty lack the specificity, frequency or duration of exercise likely to improve outcomes for this patient group.