Intrinsic Capacity as a Determinant of Physical Resilience in Older Adults

Jagadish K. Chhetri, Q. L. Xue, L. Ma, P. Chan, Ravi Varadhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The traditional disease-oriented model of healthcare is inadequate to address the needs of the older population. Greater attention should be given to strategies that promote healthy aging. Recently proposed constructs of intrinsic capacity (IC) and physical resilience (PR) hold great potential to reshape geriatric medicine and aging research. These constructs accentuate the positive health attributes of older people in contrast to the popular frailty construct that is centered on functional deficits. IC was introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a composite of all the physical and mental capacities. WHO has emphasized enhancement of IC throughout the life course so as to maintain functional ability in old age. PR, recently highlighted by the National Institute on Aging, is the ability to successfully cope with stressors. High levels of resilience can result in desirable clinical and functional outcomes after stressors. Therefore, it is important to understand the underlying physiology of PR and the risk factors contributing to diminished PR. The main goal of this article is to explore the potential relationship between IC and PR. Based on a classical theory of aging, we postulate that IC is a determinant of PR and is also a high-level integrative measure of physiologic reserve which is the fundamental factor underlying one’s ability to withstand stressors. A major implication of our postulates is that even though IC is only one of the many determinants of PR, it could serve as an important intervenable target for enhancing resilience in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1011
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Resilience
  • aging
  • frailty
  • integrated care
  • physiologic reserve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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