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The effects on cognitive functions of a movement-based intervention in patients with Alzheimer's type dementia: a pilot study




To explore the effect of a non-aerobic movement based activity on cognition in people with Alzheimer's type dementia (AD).


The sample consisted of 27 patients fulfilling the AD ICD-10 diagnostic criteria. The patient sample was randomly divided into two groups: The Exercise Group received 6 weeks movement training and comprised 15 participants with a mean age of 70.5 years (SD: 8). Control Group participated in a standard care group, which served as a control intervention, and consisted of 12 patients with an average age of 75.7 years (SD: 6.90). Cognitive functions were assessed using six computerised tests from the CANTAB, pre and post training. Data were analysed using t-tests. The false discovery rate (FDR) for multiple comparisons as well as Cohen's d effect size was used to assess the significant effects.


Significant improvements in sustained attention, visual memory and a trend in working memory were found in the Exercise Group compared to Control Group after the 6 weeks training. In addition, after 6 weeks the Control Group deteriorated significantly in attention, while the AD patients who undertook the physical exercise showed a discrete improvement.


The present study shows that a short course of non-aerobic movement based exercise is already effective at least in some aspects of cognitive functioning in patients with AD. Although the present study is a pilot study with small samples, nevertheless, the results are promising for the further investigation and development of non-aerobic movement programmes. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.