As fitness professionals, our goal is to empower our clients to lead healthier and more active lives, regardless of their age. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Aging has shed light on a remarkable combination that can significantly benefit hospitalised older individuals: the Mediterranean diet and a tailored exercise programme. In this article, we’ll summarise the key findings of the study and provide practical recommendations on how to implement these insights to enhance the wellbeing of your senior clients.

The Study Unveiled

The study, led by experts from the University of Barcelona and the Gregorio Marañón Health Research Institute, examined the effects of combining a Mediterranean diet and a physical exercise programme on hospitalised older adults. The researchers found that those who adhered to the Mediterranean diet and engaged in exercise experienced improved functional status upon discharge compared to those who did not undergo the intervention. This is a groundbreaking revelation that has the potential to transform the way we approach fitness for seniors.

Understanding Hospitalisation-Associated Disability

Hospitalisation-associated disability is a pressing concern for older adults. Even after receiving medical treatment, some seniors experience a decline in their daily-life activity skills, leading to increased economic costs, readmissions, and in severe cases, higher mortality rates. The study suggests that a holistic approach encompassing diet and exercise interventions can mitigate this phenomenon and improve the overall quality of life for hospitalised seniors. This is also supported by a 2018 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Estruch et al.)

Implementing the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet, renowned for its heart-healthy benefits, emphasises whole foods rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. You can encourage your senior clients to adopt this dietary pattern, emphasising the following elements:

  1. Fruits and Vegetables: Encourage a colourful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. These are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health.
  2. Whole Grains: Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread over refined grains. These provide sustained energy and crucial nutrients.
  3. Healthy Fats: Emphasise sources of healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon. These fats contribute to heart health and cognitive function.
  4. Lean Proteins: Opt for lean protein sources like poultry, fish, legumes, and plant-based protein alternatives.

Implementing Tailored Exercise Programmes

Exercise for Older Adults

Crafting an exercise programme tailored to each client’s needs is essential. Based on the study’s findings, consider the following recommendations:

  1. Assessment: Begin by assessing your client’s current physical condition, taking into account their medical history, mobility, and fitness level.
  2. Low-Impact Activities: Engage them in low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and gentle yoga to improve flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health.
  3. Strength Training: Incorporate resistance exercises using light weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight. Focus on targeting major muscle groups to enhance strength and functional abilities.
  4. Health Education: Provide guidance on maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep to support their overall wellbeing.

As fitness professionals, we play a pivotal role in enhancing the lives of our senior clients. The study’s findings underscore the profound impact that a Mediterranean diet combined with a personalised exercise programme can have on preventing hospitalisation-associated disability. By integrating these insights into our training approach, we can empower older adults to enjoy greater independence, vitality, and an improved quality of life.


  1. 1. A. Tor-Roca, J. Mayordomo-Cava, C. Andres-Lacueva, J. A. Serra-Rexach, Mireia Urpi-Sarda. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Response to an Exercise Programme A. Tor-Roca, J. Mayordomo-Cava, C. Andres-Lacueva, J. A. Serra-Rexach, Mireia Urpi-Sarda. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Response to an Exercise Programme to Prevent Hospitalisation-Associated Disability in Older Adults: A Secondary Analysis from a Randomised Controlled Trial. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 2023; 27 (7): 500 DOI: Click here to read the full study 
  2. Tor-Roca, A., Mayordomo-Cava, J., Andres-Lacueva, C. et al. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Response to an Exercise Program to Prevent Hospitalization-Associated Disability in Older Adults: A Secondary Analysis from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutr Health Aging 27, 500–506 (2023). Click here to read the full study
  3. 3. Ramón Estruch, M.D., Ph.D., Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., Jordi Salas-Salvadó, M.D., Ph.D., Maria-Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Dolores Corella, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Fernando Arós, M.D., Ph.D., Enrique Gómez-Gracia, M.D., Ph.D., Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Ph.D., Miquel Fiol, M.D., Ph.D., José Lapetra, M.D., Ph.D., Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventos, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Lluís Serra-Majem, M.D., Ph.D., Xavier Pintó, M.D., Ph.D., Josep Basora, M.D., Ph.D., Miguel A. Muñoz, M.D., Ph.D., José V. Sorlí, M.D., Ph.D., J. Alfredo Martínez, D.Pharm., M.D., Ph.D., Montserrat Fitó, M.D., Ph.D., Alfredo Gea, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Miguel A. Hernán, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Miguel A. Martínez-González, M.D., Ph.D. for the PREDIMED Study Investigators* (2018) Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts. The New England Journal of Medicine. Click here to read the full study 

Work with Oder Adults

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