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BreakingMar 24, 2021

International study backs the prescription of exercise rather than drugs among people with dementia

The growing popularity of prescribing a ‘social’ activity – such as regular exercise sessions, for example – as a treatment alternative to medication has been backed by researchers focusing on dementia.

In an online, peer-reviewed paper published today by The BMJ, an international team led by Jennifer A Watt, from the Knowledge Translation Program at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, urges doctors and other clinicians to consider adopting drug-free approaches.


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A woman helps her disabled grandmother take a walk (no suggestion of dementia)

The team's recommendation is likely to be particularly welcomed by physiotherapists operating in the mental health and older people’s fields, as it adds to the body of evidence linking regular exercise to the alleviation of many forms of mental distress.

Dr Watt and her colleagues argue that options such as exercise and social interaction appear to be just as or even more effective than drugs in reducing the symptoms of depression in people with dementia.

The research team analysed the results of more than 250 studies involving more than 28,000 people with dementia, some of whom had a major depressive disorder, while some did not.

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