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Keywords:

  • trial;
  • dementia;
  • exercise;
  • physical activity;
  • behavioural and psychological symptoms

Objective

The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a simple dyadic (person with dementia and their main carer) exercise regimen as a therapy for the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Method

A two arm, pragmatic, randomised, controlled, single-blind, parallel-group trial of a dyadic exercise regimen (individually tailored walking regimen designed to become progressively intensive and last between 20–30 min, at least five times per week).Community-dwelling individuals with ICD-10 confirmed dementia with the following: clinically significant behavioural and psychological symptoms, a carer willing and able to co-participate in the exercise regimen, and no physical conditions or symptoms that would preclude exercise participation were invited by mental health or primary care services into the study.

Results

One hundred and thirty-one dyads were recruited to this study. There was no significant difference in Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms as measured by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory at week 12 between the group receiving the dyadic exercise regimen and those that did not (adjusted difference in means (intervention minus control) = −1.53, p = 0.6, 95% CI [−7.37, 4.32]). There was a significant between-group difference in caregiver's burden as measured by the Zarit Caregiver Burden Inventory at week 12 (OR = 0.18, p = 0.01, CI [0.05, 0.69]) favouring the exercise group.

Conclusions

This study found that regular simple exercise does not appear to improve the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, but did seem to attenuate caregiver burden. Further study to improve exercise uptake are needed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.