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Deconditioning : Signs, Symptoms and Solutions

CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre

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Deconditioning refers to all the physical, mental and social consequences associated with inactivity, being sedentary for a period of time or intellectual and social understimulation

This lack of activity might be due to bed rest because of an injury or illness or because of social isolation caused by physical limitations, lack of transportation or even poor weather conditions.

Such a sedentary lifestyle can lead to diminished muscle strength because of lack of movement and exercise.  It can also be responsible for a decrease in mental capacities related to reduced intellectual and social stimulation. These losses can affect a person’s ability to accomplish daily tasks and activities thus reducing their autonomy and increasing the risk of falls and fractures. 

Seniors are especially at risk from deconditioning.


Early signs of deconditioning

  • Poor eating habits. 
  • Diminished strength or balance leading to problems when walking.
  • Decreased walking distance.
  • Difficulty climbing stairs.
  • Memory loss and confusion.
  • Reduced cardiorespiratory capacity.
  • Inability to maintain your home and to do your usual physical activities.



The effects of deconditioning are generally reversible; however, prevention is a better option.

  • Continue to do your daily activities, such as personal hygiene, dressing yourself, housework, laundry, gardening, etc.
  • Eat a balanced and sufficient diet.
  • Stay hydrated – drink sufficient water.
  • Move and walk as much as possible; if you live in a large building, walk in the hallways and take the stairs.
  • Continue your physical activities: varied exercises focusing on balance and strength training and moderate aerobics.  Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new programme.
  • Maintain contacts with friends and family in person, by phone or by video conference.
  • Keep your brain active by reading, learning new skills, doing word puzzles, or developing new hobbies.

If you or someone you know is already suffering from the effects of deconditioning, it is important to talk with medical professionals. Services are available from health and social services and from community organizations to help you resume your usual activities.

In partnership with you, a treatment plan specific to your needs will be developed. This plan could include medical follow-up, physical exercises, suggested menus, nutritional information, and psychosocial support.


Additional information and services

Health and social services in Québec
Establishments offering services to Autochtones and northern populations
Non-profit organisations
Health and social services in Canada
  • Government of Canada
  • Alberta
  • Colombie-Britannique
  • Manitoba
  • Nouveau-Brunswick
  • Terre-Neuve
  • Territoires du Nord-Ouest
  • Nouvelle-Écosse
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Île-du-Prince-Édouard
  • Saskatchewan
  • Territoires du Yukon


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