Effects of a physical training programme on cognitive function and walking efficiency in elderly persons with dementia

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2010;29(2):109-14. doi: 10.1159/000272435. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Objectives: To study the effects of physical stimulation based on walking exercises, equilibrium and endurance on cognitive function and walking efficiency in patients with dementia.

Methods: Randomized controlled trial including 31 subjects suffering from dementia (age: 81.8 +/- 5.3 years). The intervention group (n = 16) benefited from a 15-week physical activity programme involving three 1-hour sessions per week. The control group (n = 15) did not practice any physical activities. Before and after rehabilitation, all subjects were evaluated with the Rapid Evaluation of Cognitive Functions test (ERFC French version) and walking analysis.

Results: After the 15 weeks of rehabilitation, the subjects from the intervention group improved their overall ERFC score (p < 0.01), while those in the control group decreased their overall ERFC score. Interactions were also observed between walking parameters and groups (p < 0.01); the intervention group improved walking capacities through heightened walking speed, stride length and a reduction in double limb support time. Lastly, the subjects from the control group presented a reduction in both walking speed and stride length.

Conclusion: This study shows that a physical activity programme can slow cognitive decline and improve quality of walking in elderly persons suffering from dementia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Dementia / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking / physiology*