Effects of Exercise on Cognition: The Finnish Alzheimer Disease Exercise Trial: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Apr;64(4):731-8. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14059. Epub 2016 Apr 1.


Objectives: To examine whether a regular, long-term exercise program performed by individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) at home or as group-based exercise at an adult daycare center has beneficial effects on cognition; to examine secondary outcomes of a trial that has been published earlier.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: Community.

Participants: Community-dwelling dyads (N = 210) of individuals with AD and their spousal caregivers randomized into three groups.

Intervention: Two types of intervention comprising customized home-based exercise (HE) and group-based exercise (GE), each twice a week for 1 year, were compared with a control group (CG) receiving usual community care.

Measurements: Cognitive function was measured using the Clock Drawing Test (CDT), Verbal Fluency (VF), Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR), and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months of follow-up.

Results: Executive function, measured using CDT, improved in the HE group, and changes in the score were significantly better than those of the CG at 12 months (adjusted for age, sex, and CDR, P = .03). All groups deteriorated in VF and MMSE score during the intervention, and no significant differences between the groups were detected at 12-month follow-up when analyses were adjusted for age, sex, and CDR.

Conclusion: Regular, long-term, customized HE improved the executive function of community-dwelling older people with memory disorders, but the effects were mild and were not observed in other domains of cognition.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; cognition; physical exercise; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Caregivers
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Day Care, Medical
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome