Objectives: To evaluate the effects of a high-intensity functional exercise programme on depressive symptoms and psychological well-being among older people dependent in activities of daily living (ADL) and living in residential care facilities.
Method: Cluster-randomized controlled study. Participants were 191 older people, aged 65-100, dependent in ADL and with Mini Mental State Examination scores between 10 and 30. One-hundred (52%) of the participants had a diagnosed dementia disorder. A high-intensity functional weight-bearing exercise programme and a control activity were performed in groups. Sessions were held five times over each two week period for three months, a total of 29 times. The outcome measures, Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) and Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale (PGCMS) were blindly assessed at baseline, three and six months.
Results: At baseline, mean +/- SD (range) for GDS was 4.4 +/- 3.2 (0-14), and for PGCMS 11.0 +/- 3.5 (2-17). There were no significant differences in GDS or PGCMS between the exercise and the control group at the three and six month follow-ups in the total sample. Among people with dementia, there was a between-group difference at three months in PGCMS scores in favour of the exercise group.
Conclusion: A high-intensity functional exercise programme seems generally not to influence depressive symptoms or psychological well-being among older people dependent in ADL and living in residential care facilities. An individualized and multifactorial intervention may be needed in this group. However, an exercise programme as a single intervention may have a short-term effect on well-being among people with dementia.