Study Shows Exercise Doesn't Delay Decline In People With Dementia

Leslie Hanson
May 17, 2018

"The exercise programme might possibly have worsened cognitive impairment".

According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom, moderate to high-intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia.

To try and resolve this uncertainty, a team of United Kingdom researchers made a decision to estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with dementia.

There are about 10 million new dementia cases each year.

Oxford University studied almost 500 people, with an average age of 77 years, in 15 regions across England who were randomly given either supervised exercise and support programmes, or normal elderly care.

General health and fitness were assessed at the start of the study and participants were randomly assigned to either a supervised exercise and support programme (329 patients) or to usual care (165 patients).


The ones chosen for exercise took part in twice-weekly, 90-minute gym sessions for four months, along with a one-hour session each week under supervision. Other (secondary) outcomes included activities of daily living, number of falls, and quality of life. The exercise group were fitter, but had marginally higher Alzheimer's disease assessment scores compared with the rest.

The team of researchers, from the universities of Oxford and Warwick plus John Radcliffe Hospital and Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, found that patients' score on an Alzheimer's disease assessment had declined across both groups when they were followed up after a year.

According to a press statement, in the exercise group, the decline was steeper, "however, the average difference was small and clinical relevance was uncertain".

"Whilst previous smaller studies have suggested that exercise can prevent or improve cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's disease, this robust and very large study provides the most definitive answer we have on the role of exercise in mild-moderate Alzheimer's disease", he said via the Science Media Centre.

In a second study on aging published by the academic journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, however, U.S. researcher found improvements in certain complex thinking and memory skills among elderly video-game players.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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