British Medical Journal (BMJ) research has found that exercise programmes fail to slow brain decline in people living with mild to moderate dementia. We used a very specialized exercise program. They were also told to work out for an hour at home once a week.
They did, however, show improved physical fitness.
He continued, "We know there are ways we can all reduce our risk of dementia, such as staying physically active, eating healthily and not smoking".
Where did the story come from?
The researchers noted that cognition has declined in both the exercise and non-exercise groups.
What did the research involve?They were recruited through memory clinics - specialist services that help people who have problems with their memory - and GP surgeries. Lamb commented that dementia is a complicated issue to tackle.
The group was then compared with people living with dementia who received their usual care.
At six months and again at 12 months, the researchers assessed the participants' adherence to their assigned regimen. ADAS-cog uses a series of tests created to assess cognitive functions such as memory, language abilities, understanding and reasoning. This judged the subjects' cognitive abilities, their quality of life, and rationalization process.
Researchers adjusted the results to account for age, sex, mental ability at the start of the study and where the person was being treated.
Participants were tested a year later using a recognised Alzheimer's disease assessment score.
ADAS-cog results run on a scale from 0 to 70, with higher scores suggesting greater impairment. And while their fitness improved, outcomes such as the number of falls and quality of life didn't change.
On the positive side, the research found the programme did improve the physical fitness of participants.
How did the researchers interpret the results?
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. However, they added that it was uncertain "whether the effect on cognitive impairment we observed is important".
Around 850,000 people in Britain now suffer from dementia and there are now no treatments to reverse or slow down the condition.
The present study clearly showed this type of fairly intensive, gym-based physical-fitness-building programme does not seem to slow dementia symptoms in people already in the early stages of the disease. "But there are medicines and other treatments that can help with dementia symptoms", the NHS said on its website. One factor not measured was whether people with dementia enjoyed the exercise.
This sort of exercise may actually worsen the condition, it was revealed.