Can Exercise Help Curb Dementia? One Study Says No

Henrietta Strickland
May 17, 2018

Those given the exercise regime were asked to complete 60 to 90 minutes gym sessions-which involved equipment such as static bikes, weight belts and dumbbells-twice a week for four months.

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". We know that gentle exercise is good for you.

The researchers noted that cognition had declined in both the exercise and non-exercise groups.

"'Surprising' study suggests exercise may make dementia worse", reports The Daily Telegraph.

People with dementia are now forced to rely on services so starved of funding that they're unable to protect them from harm and the doors of A&E, let alone provide specialist care and support. Carers were asked to take the decision on behalf of people whose dementia meant they were unable to.

They discovered that the people on the exercise regimen had higher ADAS-cog scores than the people who were on usual care.

The group was then compared with people living with dementia who received their usual care.

Participants were assessed at six and 12 months after starting the programme. And while their fitness improved, outcomes such as the number of falls and quality of life didn't change. Although it improved short-term physical fitness, this "did not translate to improvements in activities of daily living, behavioural outcomes or health-related quality of life".

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.

Currently, as a dementia therapy that does not involve medication, the NHS recommends group cognitive stimulation therapy classes, where sufferers undertake exercises created to improve their memory, problem-solving skills and language ability.

Around 850,000 people in Britain now suffer from dementia and there are now no treatments to reverse or slow down the condition. It involved a relatively small number of people (although much larger number than earlier clinical trials on the topic), and lasted for only 12 months - a period of time too short, perhaps, to produce positive results among the exercise group.

According to Alzheimer's Research UK, the average annual cost per person for someone with dementia, with regards to NHS care, care homes, and unpaid care from friends and relatives, can be huge. One factor not measured was whether people with dementia enjoyed the exercise.

While the study did not find any benefit for dementia patients, this does not mean exercise is not useful for people without dementia.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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