The effects of different exercise types on cognitive and physical functions in dementia patients: A randomized comparative study

Guzel I., CAN F.

Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, vol.119, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 119
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.archger.2023.105321
  • Journal Name: Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ASSIA, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, Psycinfo, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Balance, Cognitive function, Dementia, Exercise, Frailty, Physical function
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: The physical and cognitive effects of aerobic exercise on dementia have been extensively studied. Further investigation of other types of exercise with different physiological effects is still needed. This study aimed to determine cognitive and physical effects of 6-week aerobic, balance, and combined (aerobic-balance) exercise programs on dementia. Materials and Methods: A total of 31 mild to moderate dementia patients aged 65–90 years were divided into three exercise groups. Before and after the 6-week exercise program, mental rotation, spatial orientation, visual memory, and mental status were assessed for cognitive functions, while fall risk, reaction time, lower limb strength, and frailty were assessed for physical functions. Comprehensive cognitive and physical assessments were performed to provide a holistic approach to dementia. Results: When post-exercise values were compared with pre-exercise values, only frailty decreased significantly in the aerobic exercise group (p = 0.017). After exercise program in balance and combined exercise groups, mental rotation (p = 0.005, p = 0.032), spatial orientation (p = 0.020, p = 0.035), mental status (p = 0.007, p = 0.014), and lower extremity strength (p = 0. 010, p = 0.005) increased significantly, while fall risk (p = 0.005, p = 0.005), reaction time (p = 0.028, p = 0.016), and frailty (p = 0.020, p = 0.009) decreased significantly. Moreover, in contrast to combined and aerobic exercise, improvement in visual memory was also observed in the balance exercise group (p = 0.016). Conclusions: These findings suggest that balance and combined exercises may have broader effects on dementia than aerobic exercise. It emphasizes the importance of designing exercise programs for dementia patients, considering the cognitive and physical deficits of the patients, and creating a multidimensional treatment approach.