Exercise and Dementia: what should we be recommending?

Kiara Lewis, Leanne Livsey, Robert Naughton, Kim Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)



Exercise has the potential to provide numerous benefits for people living with dementia, yet the balance of evidence is uncertain. This review is a synthesis of current evidence to determine (a) whether exercise improves health and wellbeing, and (b) what exercise should be recommended?


Structured search for existing literature reviews on exercise for dementia. Relevant articles were selected and critically appraised using a systematic approach. The findings from 15 high quality reviews were synthesised.


The evidence is convincing for improving physical health, promising for cognitive benefits, mixed for psychological benefits, and limited for behavioural outcomes. No evidence of harm was found. Overall, exercise can improve physical and mental health for people living with dementia, and there is sufficient evidence to recommend multimodal exercise.

Social implications

The potential beneficial outcomes are of significant importance both for people with dementia and their caregivers. It seems appropriate to follow the recommendation for older adults in general – some activity is better than none, more activity provides greater benefits. Adding social interaction may be important for psychological and behavioural outcomes


This review is the first to encapsulate the literature to date on exercise for dementia. Combining the findings from previous reviews enabled a novel synthesis across the range of relevant interventions and outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number2
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Exercise and Dementia: what should we be recommending?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this