Systematic review found that exercise improves physical function in people with cognitive impairment or dementia

In this recent review, the authors included 43 randomised controlled trials (n = 3,988) that evaluated the effects of exercise training on physical function and quality of life in people with cognitive impairment or dementia. Outcomes included strength, flexibility, gait, balance, mobility, walking endurance, dual-task ability, activities of daily living, quality of life, and falls. Trial quality was evaluated using the PEDro scale, with 70% of trials scoring 6/10 or higher. Multimodal exercise (45% of trials) was the most frequently evaluated form of training, followed by aerobic or walking exercise (29%). There was strong evidence that exercise training improved physical function compared to control intervention, with mean between-group differences of 2.1 repetitions (95% CI 0.3 to 3.9) in the 30-second sit-to-stand test, 5cm (95% CI 2 to 8) in step length, 3.6 points (95% CI 0.3 to 7.0) on the Berg Balance Scale, 3.9cm (95% CI 2.2 to 5.5) in functional reach distance, -1 second (95% CI -2 to 0) on the Timed Up and Go test, 0.13m/s (95% CI 0.03 to 0.24) in walking speed, and 50m (95% CI 18 to 81) on the 6-minute walk test. Strong evidence indicated that exercise training did not improve quality of life. The effect of exercise on falls was inconclusive.

Lam FMH, et al. Physical exercise improves strength, balance, mobility, and endurance in people with cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review. J Physiother 2018;64(1):4-15

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