A yearlong program of brisk exercise in people with mild to moderate dementia left participants more physically fit, but no better off in terms of mental functioning, daily living, or quality of life. In fact, the intensive exercise program may have slightly worsened their cognition. The results of the randomized trial, led by Sallie Lamb of the University of Oxford, appeared May 16 in The BMJ.
[Emphasis added.]Secondary outcomes included activities of daily living, neuropsychiatric symptoms, health related quality of life, and carer quality of life and burden.
Results The average age of participants was 77 (SD 7.9) years and 301/494 (61%) were men. By 12 months the mean ADAS-cog score had increased to 25.2 (SD 12.3) in the exercise arm and 23.8 (SD 10.4) in the usual care arm (adjusted between group difference −1.4, 95% confidence interval −2.6 to −0.2, P=0.03). This indicates greater cognitive impairment in the exercise group, although the average difference is small and clinical relevance uncertain. No differences were found in secondary outcomes or preplanned subgroup analyses by dementia type (Alzheimer’s disease or other), severity of cognitive impairment, sex, and mobility. Compliance with exercise was good. Over 65% of participants (214/329) attended more than three quarters of scheduled sessions. Six minute walking distance improved over six weeks (mean change 18.1 m, 95% confidence interval 11.6 m to 24.6 m).
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