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Open Access Study protocol

Activity in GEriatric acute CARe (AGECAR): rationale, design and methods

Steven J Fleck1, Natalia Bustamante-Ara2, Javier Ortiz3, María-Teresa Vidán3, Alejandro Lucia2* and José A Serra-Rexach3

Author Affiliations

1 Sport Science Department, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, USA

2 Universidad Europea de Madrid, 28670 Villaviciosa de Odón, Madrid, Spain

3 Geriatrics Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain

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BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-28

Published: 9 June 2012



The Activity in GEriatric acute CARe (AGECAR) is a randomised control trial to assess the effectiveness of an intrahospital strength and walk program during short hospital stays for improving functional capacity of patients aged 75 years or older.


Patients aged 75 years or older admitted for a short hospital stay (≤14 days) will be randomly assigned to either a usual care (control) group or an intervention (training) group. Participants allocated in the usual care group will receive normal hospital care and participants allocated in the intervention group will perform multiple sessions per day of lower limb strength training (standing from a seated position) and walking (10 min bouts) while hospitalized. The primary outcome to be assessed pre and post of the hospital stay will be functional capacity, using the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), and time to walk 10 meters. Besides length of hospitalization, the secondary outcomes that will also be assessed at hospital admission and discharge will be pulmonary ventilation (forced expiratory volume in one second, FEV1) and peripheral oxygen saturation. The secondary outcomes that will be assessed by telephone interview three months after discharge will be mortality, number of falls since discharge, and ability to cope with activities of daily living (ADLs, using the Katz ADL score and Barthel ADL index).


Results will help to better understand the potential of regular physical activity during a short hospital stay for improving functional capacity in old patients. The increase in life expectancy has resulted in a large segment of the population being over 75 years of age and an increase in hospitalization of this same age group. This calls attention to health care systems and public health policymakers to focus on promoting methods to improve the functional capacity of this population.

Trial registration ID: NCT01374893.

Randomised controlled trial; Ageing; Hospitalisation; Elderly; Intrahospital exercise; Functional capacity