Systematic review of the effects of exercise on activities of daily living in people with Alzheimer's disease

Am J Occup Ther. 2014 Jan-Feb;68(1):50-6. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2014.009035.


OBJECTIVE. Alzheimer's disease (AD) results in a loss of independence in activities of daily living (ADLs), which in turn affects the quality of life of affected people and places a burden on caretakers. Limited research has examined the influence of physical training (aerobic, balance, and strength training) on ADL performance of people with AD. METHOD. Six randomized controlled trials (total of 446 participants) fit the inclusion criteria. For each study, we calculated effect sizes for primary and secondary outcomes. RESULTS. Average effect size (95% confidence interval) for exercise on the primary outcome (ADL performance) was 0.80 (p < .001). Exercise had a moderate impact on the secondary outcome of physical function (effect size = 0.53, p = .004). CONCLUSION. Occupational therapy intervention that includes aerobic and strengthening exercises may help improve independence in ADLs and improve physical performance in people with AD. Additional research is needed to identify specific components of intervention and optimal dosage to develop clinical guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Affect
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Cognition
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Walking