Based on the following five symptoms, it is possible to divide frailty into three possible stages: unintentional weight loss, self-reported exhaustion, low physical activity, slow walking speed, and weak grip strength. A person suffering from more than three symptoms is considered as frail, while the presence of one or two criteria indicates a pre-frailty state. The absence of symptoms confirms no frailty.
Pre-frailty represents the early stage of frailty and, as such, could be an optimal time to set interventions in order to prevent frailty, limit or even stop the decline towards frailty. It is indeed acknowledged that frailty is reversible, particularly in pre-frailty stage when elderly people are more likely to return back to a non-frail state compared to those already in frailty.
A total of 70 pre-frail elderly people were enrolled in the present randomised controlled study and randomly assigned to one of the following groups after meeting detailed inclusion and exclusion criteria:
- Control group: no specific intervention provided except normal daily activity;
- Elastic band group: an resistance training performed by the participants.
The intervention consisted on an eight-week programme (three sessions a week during 45-60 minutes each). Each session started with a warm-up followed by resistance exercises before relaxed activities at the end. Six elastic band exercises (yellow elastic band) and two lower limb exercises without elastic band (fully detailed in the article) were performed by the participants under supervision of a qualified professional.
The main outcome measured by the authors were the frailty states, grip strength, walking speed and physical activity through the Fried Frailty Phenotype pre-intervention, at four and eight weeks post intervention. Further outcomes (balance, fear of falling, timed up and go, functional reach, sit-to-stand and quality of life) were also assessed.