The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of 16 weeks of a comprehensive exercise routine to supervised walking and social conversation on depression in nursing home residents with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Method: This study was a three-group, repeated-measures design with random assignment to treatment group. Forty-five nursing home residents with moderate to severe AD were randomly assigned to a 16-week programme of comprehensive exercise, supervised walking or social conversation. Raters were blinded to treatment group assignment. Major outcome variables were depression measured by the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia, mood measured by the Dementia Mood Assessment Scale and the Alzheimer's Mood Scale, and affect measured by the Observed Affect Scale. Depression was reduced in all three groups with some evidence of superior benefit from exercise. Depression is a common problem with serious and costly consequences for nursing home residents with AD. Exercise as a behavioural approach to treatment of depression in nursing home residents with severe AD evidenced a clear benefit to participants in this study. More research is needed to clarify the relative benefits of different types of exercise in conjunction with or without pharmacological intervention.