Physical exercise and/or enriched foods for functional improvement in frail, independently living elderly: a randomized controlled trial

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001 Jun;82(6):811-7. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2001.23278.


Objective: To examine the effects of an exercise program and an enriched food regimen on physical functioning of frail elderly persons.

Design: A 17-week randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Setting: Community.

Participants: One hundred fifty-seven independently living frail elderly (mean age, 78.7 +/- 5.6yr).

Intervention: Thirty-nine subjects participated in a twice weekly group exercise designed to improve daily functioning; 39 subjects daily ate foods enriched with vitamins and minerals (at 25%-100% of the recommended daily allowances); 42 subjects exercised and ate enriched foods; and 37 subjects served as controls. Nonexercising groups followed a social program; nonsupplement groups received the same food products without the micronutrients.

Main outcome measures: Functional performance based on 6 performance tests, physical fitness based on 7 fitness tests, and disabilities based on the self-reported ability to perform 16 daily activities.

Results: Performance sum scores were significantly enhanced in trained (+8%) compared with nontrained subjects (-8%) (difference in change: 1.9 points, p < .001, adjusted for baseline scores). Fitness sum scores were significantly enhanced as well (+3% in trained vs -2% in nontrained) (difference in change: 0.9 points, p = .05, adjusted for baseline scores). No exercise effects on the disability score were observed. Consumption of enriched products did not affect performance, fitness, or disability scores.

Conclusion: Our comprehensive exercise program, designed for widespread applicability, enhanced physical performance and fitness in a population of frail elderly. Daily consumption of micronutrient enriched foods showed no functional benefits within 17 weeks.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric