Exercise for individuals with lewy body dementia: A systematic review



Individuals with Lewy body Dementia (LBD), which encompasses both Parkinson disease dementia (PDD) and Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) experience functional decline through Parkinsonism and sedentariness exacerbated by motor, psychiatric and cognitive symptoms. Exercise may improve functional outcomes in Parkinson’s disease (PD), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the multi-domain nature of the LBD cluster of symptoms (physical, cognitive, psychiatric, autonomic) results in vulnerable individuals often being excluded from exercise studies evaluating physical function in PD or cognitive function in dementia to avoid confounding results. This review evaluated existing literature reporting the effects of exercise interventions or physical activity (PA) exposure on cluster symptoms in LBD.


A high-sensitivity search was executed across 19 databases. Full-length articles of any language and quality, published or unpublished, that analysed effects of isolated exercise/physical activity on indicative Dementia with Lewy Bodies or PD-dementia cohorts were evaluated for outcomes inclusive of physical, cognitive, psychiatric, physiological and quality of life measures. The protocol for this review (Reg. #: CRD42015019002) is accessible at http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/.


111,485 articles were initially retrieved; 288 full articles were reviewed and 89.6% subsequently deemed ineligible due to exclusion of participants with co-existence of dementia and Parkinsonism. Five studies (1 uncontrolled trial, 1 randomized controlled trial and 3 case reports) evaluating 16 participants were included. Interventions were diverse and outcome homogeneity was low. Habitual gait speed outcomes were measured in 13 participants and increased (0.18m/s, 95% CI -0.02, 0.38m/s), exceeding moderate important change (0.14m/s) for PD cohorts. Other outcomes appeared to improve modestly in most participants.


Scarce research investigating exercise in LBD exists. This review confirms exercise studies in PD and dementia consistently exclude LBD participants. Results in this cohort must be treated with caution until robustly designed, larger studies are commissioned to explore exercise efficacy, feasibility and clinical relevance.


Parkinson disease, dementia, walking, gait analysis, cognitive impairment, database searching, Alzheimer disease, dementia with Lewy bodies

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Journal Article

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Inskip, M., Mavros, Y., Sachdev, P.S., Fiatarone Singh, M. A. (2016). Exercise for individuals with lewy body dementia: A systematic review. PLoS ONE 11(6). e0156520. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156520

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