Regular exercise similar to everyday activities and performed at high intensity may help improve balance and reduce dependence on assistance in performing ADLs, among people with dementia.

The study, conducted by Umeå University in Sweden, involved 186 people with dementia (age 65 or older and in need of personal care) in 16 different residential care areas near the university. The participants were divided into two groups: one who participated in high-intensive functional exercises led by physiotherapists, and one who was sedentary and took part in stimulating activities of group conversations, singing, and reading aloud sessions, explains a media release from Umeå University.

The exercise program included various functional exercises to help improve leg strength, balance and walking, which were part of everyday activities. Participants worked out for 45 minutes two to three times per week for 4 months.

All participants were tested before, as well as 4 and 7 months after program completion, the release continues.

Due to the progressive course of dementia, all of the participants demonstrated deterioration in their ability to independently manage everyday activities. However, the exercise group demonstrated a slower pace of deterioration as well as improvements in their balance.

The positive effects of the exercise varied depending on the type of dementia. For example, participants with vascular dementia experienced better effects from exercising than participants with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the release.

The study appears in a recent issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

[Source(s): Umeå University, Science Daily]