The Breaking “Bad Rest” Study: Interrupting sedentary time to reverse frailty levels in acute care

About the Project:

Older patients spend most of their day in bed while they are in the hospital. This can make recovery more difficult, or cause someone to have worse health when they leave the hospital.

We want to learn if reducing sedentary time, such as time spent lying in bed, will benefit patients’ health while they are recovering in hospital. We are especially interested in whether reducing sedentary time will improve frailty levels after patients leave the hospital. Frailty levels describe a person’s health status. People who are frailer are more likely to have worse health when they leave the hospital than those who are less frail.

For this study, we will recruit 50 participants within 24 hours of their admission to a hospital unit that specializes in care for older adults. We will compare two groups: a control group and an intervention group. The control group will receive usual care in hospital. The intervention group will be provided with a device to measure their sedentary time. We will also provide the intervention group with a daily goal for how much time they should spend out of bed. Patients who do not independently achieve their goal, will be encouraged and supported (if necessary) to get out of bed and move by research staff in the afternoon and early evening.

If this project is successful, our goal is to make this intervention part of usual care. We believe this study will inform guidelines for limiting patients’ bed rest while in hospital.

Click here to read more about the project and its impact.

Project Team

Principal Investigators:


  • Chris Blanchard, PhD — Dalhousie University
  • Leah Cahill, RD/PDt, PhD — Dalhousie University
  • Mohammad Hajizadeh, PhD — Dalhousie University
  • Peter Hartley, PT — University of Cambridge
  • Scott Kehler, PhD — Dalhousie University
  • Pamela Jarrett, MD — Horizon Health Network
  • Roman Romero-Ortuno, MD, PhD — Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Renuka Visvanathan, MD, PhD — University of Adelaide

Project contact: Olga Theou —


Keywords: frailty; accumulation of deficits; sedentary lifestyle; exercise therapy; acute care