Association between lifestyle behaviors and frailty in Atlantic Canadian males and females

Authors: Vanessa DeClercq, Todd Duhamel, Olga Theou, Scott Kehler


The aim of this study was to identify lifestyle factors in males and females that are associated with a greater degree of frailty in a Canadian cohort.


Cross-sectional data analysis from participants aged 30−74 yrs of the Atlantic PATH cohort. Inclusion criteria included completion of mental health questionnaires and ≥1 vital measure (n = 9133, 70% female, mean age 55 yrs). A frailty index was created based on 38 items with higher values indicating increasing frailty. The association between lifestyle factors and frailty was assessed by logistic regression.


805 participants had a high level of frailty (frailty index ≥0.30). There was a significant interaction among sex, age, and lifestyle factors such as smoking status (P < 0.001), alcohol consumption (P < 0.001), physical activity level (P = 0.005), time spent sitting (P < 0.001) and sleeping (P < 0.001) on frailty. Smoking was harmful whereas sleep was protective for both males and females (<60 yrs). Females (<60yrs) that sat for ≥4 h/day were more likely to be highly frail whereas females (all ages) that consumed alcohol at least occasionally were less likely to be highly frail. Males, but not females, that engaged in a high level of physical activity were less likely to have a high level of frailty.


Higher frailty is more prevalent among participants with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors related to smoking, alcohol consumption, sedentary and physical activity level, diet, and sleep. Differences in lifestyle behaviors of males and females of specific ages should be considered for managing frailty levels.