Stand up against frailty

by | April 22, 2019

Nationwide challenge raises awareness on preventing muscle loss and frailty in Singaporean adults.


Team Strong Silver doing the #Stand4Strength challenge.

One in two Singaporean adults 55 years and older are either pre-frail or frail. To bring further awareness on the risk of frailty, the Society for Geriatric Medicine Singapore (SGMS) and Abbott recently launched a nationwide challenge called #Stand4Strength at Waterway Point Punggol.

The challenge, which can be done anytime or anywhere, involves a simple ‘stand-up’ test on a single leg and to hold the stand position for three seconds. From there, this should give one an idea on what necessary action steps to do to slow the muscle loss. Research shows that those who are unable to perform the test face a higher risk of not being able to walk in their 70s and beyond.

Dr Chew Aik Phon, president of SGMS, shared that a key indicator of frailty is loss of muscle mass, and scientific evidence has shown that this could increase the risk of falls, hospitalisation, disability and even death. “Many adults think they’re far from being frail, but the result of doing this simple test might shock them. We want to get younger and older Singaporeans to start taking action today, and keep conditions associated with frailty, such as sarcopenia, at bay.”

Some of the early signs of muscle loss include low energy, slower walking speed, decreased strength, unintentional weight loss, fatigue and weakness. Added Assoc Professor Tan Thai Lian, senior consultant, geriatric medicine and a member of SGMS, “Our muscles play an important role in our movement. However, many do not realise that starting at age 40, we lose about eight percent of muscle every decade, and after 70, that rate almost doubles.

The #Stand4Strength challenge.

He said: “Everyone needs to be responsible for their own health – starting with their diet, and making the effort to stay active. If we do not do anything to slow down or prevent muscle loss from happening, we may have difficulty moving in our later years.” Research shows that a complete and balanced nutrition, regular physical activity and cognitive stimulation can help reverse or slow down age-related physical weakness.

So, if you are not able to do the challenge at this point, not to worry. Dr Melvin Chua, head and senior consultant, Department of General Medicine, Sengkang General Hospital, said: “Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do the challenge now. Building strength is never too late. You can consider resistance exercises such as lifting simple grocery bags or doing squats at home using a chair to stabilise which are all beneficial to our muscles. Simple exercises like one-leg stands, squats, heel raises and lunges can go a long way in helping to improve muscle mass and strength. You can do even these while watching television at home. The important thing is to make these actions a habit.”

He added: “I would also advise seniors and adults to consult a doctor and dietitian for specific recommendations on what they can do based on their current health status and ability to do certain exercises.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its Guidelines on Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) to strongly recommend oral supplemental nutrition with dietary advice for older adults who are at risk or affected by undernutrition, along with exercises such as strength, aerobic and balance training. A recommended ‘healthy plate’ to be consumed per day by the Health Promotion Board includes a half plate of vegetables and fruits, a quarter of protein foods and a quarter of wholegrain foods.

As part of the #Stand4Strength challenge, all Singaporeans are invited to participate in the challenge on social media, together with their family and friends. Each participant will receive a S$5 NTUC FairPrice voucher and stand a chance to win a family cruise trip. To take part, record a video doing the #Stand4Strength challenge, upload it onto Facebook or Instragram and tag one other family member or friend, @Abbottfamilysg and include the #Stand4Strength hashtag in the caption. The challenge ends on May 30, 2019.

Abbott will also be conducting a series of community-based educational events on muscle health in line with the #Stand4Strength challenge:

  • Jurong Point, June 3 to 11
  •  JEM, June 17 to 25
  • Bedok Central, July 1 to 9
  • Next Mall, September 16 to 24
  • Jurong Point, September 30 to October 8
  • Tampines Mall, November 4 to 12
  • Hougang Point, November 21 to 27

These events are free and open to the public. For more information on these events and information on the challenge, go to




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