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BMJ. 2018 May 16;361:k1675. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k1675.

Dementia And Physical Activity (DAPA) trial of moderate to high intensity exercise training for people with dementia: randomised controlled trial.

Author information

1
Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Sciences, Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LD, UK sarah.lamb@ndorms.ox.ac.uk.
2
Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
3
Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, Coventry, UK.
4
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.
5
Division of Health Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with mild to moderate dementia.

DESIGN:

Multicentre, pragmatic, investigator masked, randomised controlled trial.

SETTING:

National Health Service primary care, community and memory services, dementia research registers, and voluntary sector providers in 15 English regions.

PARTICIPANTS:

494 people with dementia: 329 were assigned to an aerobic and strength exercise programme and 165 were assigned to usual care. Random allocation was 2:1 in favour of the exercise arm.

INTERVENTIONS:

Usual care plus four months of supervised exercise and support for ongoing physical activity, or usual care only. Interventions were delivered in community gym facilities and NHS premises.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The primary outcome was score on the Alzheimer's disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) at 12 months. Secondary outcomes included activities of daily living, neuropsychiatric symptoms, health related quality of life, and carer quality of life and burden. Physical fitness (including the six minute walk test) was measured in the exercise arm during the intervention.

RESULTS:

The average age of participants was 77 (SD 7.9) years and 301/494 (61%) were men. By 12 months the mean ADAS-cog score had increased to 25.2 (SD 12.3) in the exercise arm and 23.8 (SD 10.4) in the usual care arm (adjusted between group difference -1.4, 95% confidence interval -2.6 to -0.2, P=0.03). This indicates greater cognitive impairment in the exercise group, although the average difference is small and clinical relevance uncertain. No differences were found in secondary outcomes or preplanned subgroup analyses by dementia type (Alzheimer's disease or other), severity of cognitive impairment, sex, and mobility. Compliance with exercise was good. Over 65% of participants (214/329) attended more than three quarters of scheduled sessions. Six minute walking distance improved over six weeks (mean change 18.1 m, 95% confidence interval 11.6 m to 24.6 m).

CONCLUSION:

A moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme does not slow cognitive impairment in people with mild to moderate dementia. The exercise training programme improved physical fitness, but there were no noticeable improvements in other clinical outcomes.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN10416500.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work, other than funding arrangements for the trial described in body of the text; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

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