Sarcopenia and its association with objectively measured life-space mobility and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in the oldest-old amid the COVID-19 pandemic when a physical distancing policy is in force

Rick Yiu Cho Kwan, Justina Yat Wa Liu, Yue Heng Yin, Paul Hong Lee, Siu Ying Ng, Daphne Sze Ki Cheung, Patrick Pui Kin Kor, Simon Ching Lam, Shirley Ka Lai Lo, Lin Yang, Siu Kay Chan, Vico Chung Lim Chiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: The oldest-old are highly vulnerable to sarcopenia. Physical distancing remains a common and effective infection-control policy to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic. Sarcopenia is known to be associated with impaired immunity. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and life-space mobility (LSM) are potential strategies for minimizing the risk of sarcopenia. However, a physical distancing policy might jeopardize the practice of MVPA and LSM. The purposes of this study were to identify the prevalence of sarcopenia and examine the association between MVPA and LSM with sarcopenia in the community-dwelling oldest-old during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This study employed a cross-sectional and observational design. The study was conducted in 10 community centres for older people in Hong Kong during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic (September to December 2020). Eligible participants were the oldest-old people aged ≥85 years, who were community-dwelling and had no overt symptoms of cognitive impairment or depression. Key variables included sarcopenia as measured by SARC-F, LSM as measured by a GPS built into smartphones, and MVPA as measured by a wrist-worn ActiGraph GT3X+. Variables were described by mean and frequency. A multiple linear regression was employed to test the hypotheses. The dependent variable was sarcopenia and the independent variables included LSM and MVPA. Results: This study recruited 151 eligible participants. Their mean age was 89.8 years and the majority of them were female (n = 93/151, 61.6%). The prevalence of sarcopenia was 24.5% (n = 37/151) with a margin of error of 6.86%. MVPA was negatively associated with sarcopenia in older people (β = − 0.002, SE = 0.001, p = 0.029). However, LSM was not associated with sarcopenia. Conclusion: The prevalence of sarcopenia in the community-dwelling oldest-old population is high. MVPA is negatively associated with sarcopenia. LSM is unrelated to sarcopenia. Sarcopenia should be recognized and the oldest-old with sarcopenia should be accorded priority treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number250
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Life-space mobility
  • Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
  • Physical distancing
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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