Objectives: Physical exercise has been associated with a range of positive outcomes including improvements in psychological well-being. The aim of the present study was to review current evidence on the effects of physical activity interventions for carers of people with dementia.
Methods: Systematic review. We searched electronic databases and key articles of studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of physical activity interventions in improving psychological well-being in carers of people with dementia. Relevant papers were scored according to established criteria set by the Cochrane Review Group. Selection criteria for studies were a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, and comparing physical activity with a control group receiving no specific physical activity intervention. Two reviewers worked independently to select trials, extract data, and assess risk of bias.
Results: A total of four RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Studies evaluated home-based supervised physical activity of low to moderate intensity, which included either aerobic exercise, or endurance training. Pooled data showed that physical activity reduced subjective caregiver burden in carers, standardized mean difference −0.43; 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.81 to −0.04, in comparison to a control group of usual care.
Conclusions: There is evidence from two RCTs that physical activity reduces subjective caregiver burden for carers of people with dementia. Although statistically significant, the observed benefits should be interpreted with caution as the studies conducted so far have limitations. Further high-quality trials are needed for evaluating the effectiveness of physical activity in improving psychological well-being in carers of people with dementia. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.