Exercise may improve people with dementia’s cognitive function and ability to carry out everyday tasks, according to systematic review published recently in The Cochrane Library. The study updates a Cochrane review carried out in 2008, when only four trials on the effects of exercise in older people with dementia were available.
In the latest study, data from eight trials involving 329 people showed that exercise could improve cognitive functioning. Data from six studies involving 289 people showed that exercise could improve the ability of older people with dementia to carry out daily activities, such as walking short distances or getting up from a chair. Although there were not enough studies for the evidence to be conclusive, and not enough to confirm the effects of exercise on other factors relating to dementia, the evidence was said to be promising.
A spokesperson from the Alzheimer’s Society said: “We have known for some time that exercise helps reduce your risk of developing dementia but there has been little evidence of the true benefits for people with the condition. This research brings together existing studies which show how important it is to support people with dementia to remain fit and active.”