The Relationship between Physical Activity and Frailty among U.S. Older Adults Based on Hourly Accelerometry Data

Megan Huisingh-Scheetz*, Kristen Wroblewski, Masha Kocherginsky, Elbert Huang, William Dale, Linda Waite, L. Philip Schumm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background/Objectives: Accelerometry measures older adult (in)activity with high resolution. Most studies summarize activity over the entire wear time. We extend prior work by analyzing hourly activity data to determine how frailty and other characteristics relate to activity among older adults. Methods: Using wrist accelerometry data collected from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (n = 651), a nationally-representative probability sample of older adults, we used mixed effects linear regression to model the logarithm of hourly counts per minute as a function of an adapted phenotypic frailty score, adjusting for demographic and health characteristics, season, day of week and time of day. Results: Higher frailty scores were associated with modestly lower activity; each frailty point (04) corresponded to a 7% lower mean hourly counts per minute. Older age, more comorbidities, male gender, and higher BMI were also associated with lower activity, though the latter was not evident among frail respondents. After adjusting for differences associated with frailty and other covariates, a substantial amount of between-individual variability in activity remained, as well as within-individual variability across days. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that frail elders, men, those who are older, overweight or have multiple comorbidities are most likely to have low activity. However, residual differences between individuals remain larger than the differences associated with frailty and other covariates. We suggest defining individual-specific activity goals and further research to identify the sources of between-individual variability to better understand how activity reflects health status and to permit the development of more effective interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-629
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 17 2018


  • Accelerometry
  • Frailty
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging


Dive into the research topics of 'The Relationship between Physical Activity and Frailty among U.S. Older Adults Based on Hourly Accelerometry Data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this