Regular walks and strength training improve the memory and cognitive function in elderly people with dementia. This was revealed by a study performed at the University Medical Centre in Groningen.
Not only do walking and strength training have a positive effect on the physical fitness of elderly people with dementia, but they also improve the memory and boost cognitive function. This results in an improvement in the skills used for everyday tasks, ultimately contributing to a better quality of life.
One hundred and nine people aged 75 years and older who live in nursing homes and who suffer from dementia were monitored for a nine-week period. During this period, two exercise programmes were evaluated: thirty minutes of walking four times a week or thirty minutes of walking twice a week and strength training for thirty minutes twice a week.
The walking and strength training combination was the most successful. There was an improvement in stamina, leg strength and balance, but also the memory, the ability to recognise people and the concentration showed an upward trend. This resulted in the participants finding it easier to, for example, put on a coat or butter a sandwich.
However, once the exercise and strength training stopped, the effect soon vanished. The researchers therefore urge that walking and strength training become a structural part of the care of elderly people with dementia.