Physical exercise for individuals living with a dementia in residential care

Lindsey Brett, Victoria Traynor, Paul Stapley, Shahla Meedya

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Introduction: Physical exercise has many benefits for older individuals but evidence evaluating the specific benefit for individuals with dementia is limited, especially for those living in residential care. This makes it difficult to determine the optimum type, and parameters of physical exercise for this population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of an evidence-based physical exercise intervention on agitation levels and physical performance of individuals living with dementia in residential care. Method: A single-blinded, randomised controlled trial was conducted by a physiotherapist. The physical exercise intervention consisted of activities that targeted strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. To help determine the optimum parameters for this population individuals were randomly allocated into either one of two intervention groups: (i) physical exercise intervention for 45 minutes once a week; (ii) physical exercise intervention for 15 minutes three times a week, or the ‘usual care’ control group. The effectiveness of the intervention was determined using the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory and a range of physical performance measures. Results: Individuals living with dementia in two residential care facilities in Adelaide, South Australia, participated in this study. Changes recorded by the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory and the range of physical performance outcome measures were evaluated using ANOVA paired sample t-test, Wilcoxon signed-ranked test, Kruskal-Walis test and Chi Square test. Changes in number of falls and timed static pedalling were statistically significant in support of the physical exercise intervention. The other physical performance outcome measures showed positive trends in relation to the intervention groups but were not statistically significant. Conclusion: The findings from this study demonstrated that a physical exercise intervention targeting strength, balance, endurance and flexibility improved physical function. If this type of intervention was incorporated into clinical practice it could help to increase physical activity levels and improve care provisions for individuals living with dementia. No definitive conclusions could be drawn when comparing the two intervention groups. However, the results do show that as little as 45 minutes of exercise per a week can be beneficial for individuals living with dementia in nursing homes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event49th AAG National Conference - National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 2 Nov 20164 Nov 2016


Conference49th AAG National Conference


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