Background: People with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) tend to be vulnerable to geriatric syndromes such as sarcopenia and frailty. Reduced physical activity also accompanies sarcopenia and frailty, which is generally typical of patients with T2DM. However, a comprehensive assessment of physical fitness in patients with T2DM has seldom been carried out and verified. This study is thus an attempt to determine the associations among sarcopenia, frailty, and the SFT in diabetic patients and non-diabetic controls to provide a more comprehensive understanding of such associations in future evaluations of T2DM in older individuals. Methods: Sarcopenia, frailty, and the senior fitness test (SFT) were compared between 78 older men with T2DM (66.5 ± 9.0 years) and 48 age-matched normoglycemic controls (65.8 ± 5.3 years) in this case–control study. The skeletal muscle index (SMI), grip strength, and 4-m walk test were employed to assess for sarcopenia. Frailty was evaluated using the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures index (SOF). The SFT comprises five components, including body composition, muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and aerobic endurance. Results: The risk level of sarcopenia was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the T2DM group as compared to the control group. No significant difference between-group differences were found in SMI and grip strength in the T2DM and control groups. However, the T2DM group showed a significant decrease in gait speed (p < 0.01) in comparison with the control group, as well as significant increases in frailty (p < 0.01) and depression (p < 0.05). With respect to the SFT, obvious elevation in BMI, significant declines in extremity muscle strength (elbow extensor, knee flexor, hip abductor, hip flexor, sit to stand), static/dynamic balance (single leg stand: p < 0.05; up-and-go: p < 0.01) and aerobic endurance (2-min step: p < 0.01; 6-min walk: p < 0.01) were found in the T2DM group. Furthermore, the SOF (OR = 2.638, 95% CI = 1.333–5.221), BMI (OR = 1.193, 95% CI = 1.041–1.368) and up-and-go (OR = 2.089, 95% CI = 1.400–3.117) were found to be positively and significantly associated with T2DM. Conclusions: The findings of this study indicated the importance of countering frailty and maintaining physical fitness, especially dynamic balance, during the early physical deterioration taking place in diabetic patients.
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