The impact of prolonged bed rest and exercise on frailty and frailty-related biological markers

About the Project

Being inactive and spending most of the waking day in bed can make health worse and may age people more quickly. Interestingly, similar changes in health that occur with bed rest are also observed in astronauts when they are in space. Understanding the biology of what causes these changes will help us to improve the health of astronauts in space and adults living on Earth. Our group has developed a tool, called the frailty index, which measures how fast a person ages. With this project we will study how spending 14-days in bed changes frailty levels of 20-24 people between the ages of 55-65. In this study, we will also learn if exercising during bed rest will have an impact on frailty levels and compare the changes to strict bed rest. We will also study if changes in frailty levels can be explained by changes in abnormal blood tests, inflammation levels and the micro-organisms that live in the human body, called the microbiome. This project will be of great value in addressing frailty in older adults, especially when confined to bed rest such as during hospitalization. The results of this study may also help to protect the health of astronauts during space missions.

Project Team

Principal Investigators:

Olga Theou, PhD — Nova Scotia Health Authority

Robert Beiko, PhD — Dalhousie University

Susan Howlett, PhD — Dalhousie University

Kenneth Rockwood, MD, FRCPC, FRCP — Nova Scotia Health Authority


Judith Godin, PhD — Dalhousie University

Scott Grandy, PhD — Dalhousie University

Dustin Kehler, PhD — Dalhousie University

Morgan Langille, PhD — Dalhousie University

Arnold Mitnitski, PhD — Dalhousie University