Researchers in the US have unveiled the findings of a study which indicate that exercise can improve the thinking abilities and everyday life of patients with dementia.
The Cochrane Collaboration carried out a systematic review of eight exercise trials involving more than 300 patients living at home or in care.
Whilst exercise did not demonstrably improve patients' moods, the research concluded that it did help them carry out daily activities such as rising from a chair, and boosted their cognitive skills.
Researcher Dorothy Forbes, of the University of Alberta, and colleagues who carried out the Cochrane review, said: "Clearly, further research is needed to be able to develop best practice guidelines to enable healthcare providers to advise people with dementia living at home or in institutions.”
Whether these benefits improve quality of life is still unclear, but the study authors say the findings are reason for optimism. It will be fundamental going forward to understand what level and intensity of exercise is beneficial for someone with dementia.
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer's Research UK said: "We do know that exercise is an important part of keeping healthy, and though we can't say that exercise will prevent dementia, evidence does suggest it can help reduce the risk of the condition as part of a healthy lifestyle."