Exercise does not prevent or delay onset of dementia

17 May 2018 08:29

Exercise had previously been linked to dementia onset

Exercise had previously been linked to dementia onset

A new study has found that certain types of exercise do not prevent the onset or worsening of dementia and may even contribute to further cognitive impairment.

Contributing activity included moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training.

This sort of exercise may actually worsen the condition, it was revealed.

Physically fitter

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that, while a specific exercise programme undertaken by people with mild to moderate dementia did make them physically fitter, it failed to halt or positively affect their cognitive condition.

The participating individuals who had taken part in an exercise programme were even found to have had slightly worse scores in an Alzheimer's assessment when they were tested a year later.

Patients from memory clinics across 15 regions of England were invited to take part in the study.

Almost 500 people with dementia took part - with 329 embarking on a special exercise programme and 165 receiving the normal care provided to sufferers of the disease.

Worse scores

The exercise programme consisted of group sessions of 60 to 90 minutes in a gym twice a week for four months, plus home exercises for one additional hour each week with ongoing support.

The team of researchers found all patients attained worse scores in an Alzheimer's test undertaken a year later.

Indeed, patients who participated in the exercise programme showed slightly worse scores than those who hadn't exercised. They did, however, show improved physical fitness.

"This indicates greater cognitive impairment in the exercise group, although the average difference is small and clinical relevance uncertain," the authors wrote.

They added: "People with mild to moderate dementia can engage and comply with moderate to high intensity aerobic and strengthening exercise and improve physical fitness.

"These benefits do not, however, translate into improvements in cognitive impairment, activities in daily living, behaviour, or health-related quality of life.

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

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