The review looked at 16 trials performed on over 900 patients living at home or in medical care. While the research did show improvements in the thinking abilities of these patients, there was no conclusive evidence that it helped improve their mood or quality of life.
"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," said researcher Dorothy Forbes, of the University of Alberta. "We also need to understand what level and intensity of exercise is beneficial for someone with dementia."
The trials failed to give reviewers any insight into the effects of exercise on behaviour, depression and mortality in older people with dementia, but they believe better-designed studies could illuminate the effect of exercise on these factors.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, dementia is not a specific disease and is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of symptoms associated with cognitive decline. Alzheimer's disease accounts for some 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.