Exergaming as a Physical Exercise Strategy Reduces Frailty in People With Dementia: A Randomized Controlled Trial.J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2019 12; 20(12):1502-1508.e1.JA
People with dementia are known to be physically frailer, more sedentary, and participate less in regular physical exercise compared to their healthy peers. Physical activity interventions have the potential to reduce the level of frailty in community-dwelling older adults. Exergaming combines physical exercise with cognitive stimulation in a virtual environment. It is an innovative and fun way of exercising, which may aid people with dementia to be more physically active. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of a 12-week exergame training and equally long aerobic training, both compared to an active control group, on frailty in people with dementia.
A 3-armed randomized controlled trial compared exergame training, aerobic training, and an active control intervention.
115 people with dementia [mean (standard deviation [SD]) age = 79.2 (6.9) years; mean (SD) Mini-Mental State Examination score = 22.9 (3.4)].
Participants were randomized and individually trained 3 times a week during 12 weeks. The Evaluative Frailty Index for Physical activity (EFIP) was used to assess the level of frailty at baseline and after the 12-week intervention period. Between-group differences were analyzed with analysis of covariance.
The exergame group showed a trend toward higher adherence compared to the aerobic group (87.3% vs 81.1%, P = .05). A significant reduction on the EFIP was found in the exergame group (EG) compared to the active control group (CG) [mean difference (95% confidence interval) between EG and CG: -0.034 [-0.062, -0.007], P = .012], with a small-to-moderate effect size (partial η = 0.055).
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
This is the first study to show that a 12-week exergame intervention reduces the level of frailty in people with dementia. This is an important and promising result, because frailty is a powerful predictor for adverse health outcomes, and its reduction may have positive effects on health status. Moreover, exergaming resulted in high adherence rates of physical exercise, which makes it an effective strategy to engage people with dementia in physical activity.