Rigorous exercise does not slow dementia decline

  • A study involving nearly 500 people with dementia has found that a rigorous physical exercise program did nothing to slow their decline.

A number of studies have found that physical exercise can help delay the onset of dementia, however the ability of exercise to slow the decline once dementia has set in is a more equivocal question. A large new study answers this question in the negative.

The study involved 494 people with mild-to-moderate dementia (average age 77; 61% male), of whom 329 were randomly assigned to a four-month aerobic and strength exercise programme and 165 were assigned to usual care. The exercise program was personalized, and involved two 60-90 minute gym sessions every week, plus a further hour at home. Nearly two-thirds of the exercise group attended more than three-quarters of the gym sessions.

While the exercise group did get physically fitter, their cognitive fitness (as measured by ADAS-cog score) actually worsened slightly.

The researchers emphasize that this was a specialized and intense exercise program, and in no way should it be taken to mean that gentle exercise, which is good for dementia sufferers, should be avoided.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/16/rigorous-exercise-makes-dementia-worse-study-concludes

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