Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive impairment in older people with dementia, a trial published by The BMJ finds. The view that exercise might slow cognitive decline has gained popularity, however, recent reviews of trials of exercise training in people with dementia have shown conflicting results.
A team of UK researchers decided 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. 494 people with mild to moderate dementia living in the community across 15 regions of England were involved. Participants were randomly assigned to either a supervised exercise and support programme or to usual care. The main outcome was an Alzheimer’s disease assessment score (ADAS-cog) at 12 months. Other (secondary) outcomes included activities of daily living, number of falls, and quality of life.
Compliance with exercise was good and participants were assessed again at six and 12 months. The researchers found that cognitive impairment declined over the 12-month follow-up in both groups. The exercise group showed improved physical fitness in the short term, but higher ADAS-cog scores at 12 months (25.2 v 23.8) compared with the usual care group, indicating worse cognitive impairment.
Reprinted by materials provided by The BMJ