The effects of exercise programs on cognition, activities of daily living, and neuropsychiatric symptoms in community-dwelling people with dementia—a systematic review

Language
en
Document Type
Article
Issue Date
2023-01-23
Issue Year
2022
Authors
Steichele, Kathrin
Keefer, Anne
Dietzel, Nikolas
Graessel, Elmar
Prokosch, Hans-Ulrich
Kolominsky-Rabas, Peter L.
Editor
Abstract

Background The prevalence of dementia is expected to increase dramatically. Due to a lack of pharmacological treatment options for people with dementia, non-pharmacological treatments such as exercise programs have been recommended to improve cognition, activities of daily living, and neuropsychiatric symptoms. However, inconsistent results have been reported across different trials, mainly because of the high heterogeneity of exercise modalities. Thus, this systematic review aims to answer the questions whether exercise programs improve cognition, activities of daily living as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms in community-dwelling people with dementia.

Methods Eight databases were searched for articles published between 2016 and 2021 (ALOIS, CENTRAL, CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, Web of Science). Randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of any type of physical activity on cognition, activities of daily living, or neuropsychiatric symptoms in community-dwelling people with a formal diagnosis of dementia were included in this systematic review. Two authors independently assessed eligibility and quality of the studies. The methodology was in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines.

Results Eight publications covering seven trials were included in this review with the majority investigating either a combination of strength and aerobic exercise or aerobic exercise alone. This review revealed that there is no clear evidence for the beneficial effects of exercise on cognition. None of the included trials found an impact on activities of daily living. Although different randomized controlled trials reported inconsistent results, one trial indicated that especially aerobic exercise may improve neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Conclusion Our systematic review did not confirm the impact of exercise on cognition and activities of daily living in community-dwelling people with dementia. The results suggested that aerobic exercise might be effective to reduce neuropsychiatric symptoms. Well-designed trials including only community-dwelling people with a formal diagnosis of dementia, large samples, long-term follow-ups, and detailed description of adherence to the intervention are needed to improve the scientific evidence on the best type of exercise modality.

Journal Title
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy
Volume
14
Citation
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy 14 (2022): 97. <https://alzres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13195-022-01040-5>