Effects of Exercise on Functional Performance and Fall Rate in Subjects with Mild or Advanced Alzheimer's Disease: Secondary Analyses of a Randomized Controlled Study

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2016;41(3-4):233-41. doi: 10.1159/000445712. Epub 2016 May 10.


Background: Exercise improves functional performance in subjects with dementia. However, whether the benefits of exercise are evident in all stages of dementia remains uncertain. This study examines how people in different stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) benefit from exercise intervention in their physical functioning and risk of falling.

Methods: The present study is a subanalysis of a randomized controlled trial examining the effects of exercise intervention (twice a week for 12 months) in AD patients (n = 194). We studied the effects separately in participants with mild dementia and in participants with advanced dementia.

Results: In subjects with mild dementia, the deterioration in physical functioning was slower in the intervention group than in the controls. Changes in Functional Independence Measure at 12 months were -2.7 (95% CI -0.5 to -4.9) in the intervention group and -10.1 (95% CI -7.0 to -13.3) in the control group (p < 0.001). The exercise intervention proved effective in preventing falls among patients with advanced AD, with an incidence rate ratio of 0.47 (95% CI 0.37-0.60; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Regular exercise may slow the rate of functional deterioration in mild AD and reduce falls in patients suffering from advanced AD.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Dementia / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome