Effectiveness of exercise programmes in improving physical function and reducing behavioural symptoms of community living older adults with dementia living in Asia, and impact on their informal carers: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Yulisna Mutia Sari, Keith D. Hill, Den Ching A. Lee, Elissa Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: There is a growing evidence on the benefits of exercise for older people living with dementia in developed countries. However, cultural, health-care systems and environmental differences may impact on the uptake of exercise and outcomes in different regions of the world. Objective: This study synthesised the available evidence examining the effectiveness of exercise interventions on improving physical function and reducing behavioural symptoms in community-dwelling older people living with dementia in Asia, and the impact on their informal carers. Methods: Six databases were searched to November 2021. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-experimental studies evaluating exercise interventions for community-dwelling older people with dementia living in Asia were included. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomised trials and Downs and Black checklist had been used to assess methodological quality of the studies. Meta-analyses using a fixed effects model assessed the effects of exercise interventions where sufficient data were available. Mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was used to pool results. Results: Nine studies (five RCTs) were included (Hong Kong-4, China-1, South Korea-2, Taiwan-1, Indonesia-1). Exercise improved dynamic balance [Functional Reach (2 studies, n=111 people with dementia), MD=2.61, 95% CI (1.55, 3.67)], but not for the Berg Balance Scale (MD=1.10, 95% CI [-2.88, 5.07]), Timed Up and Go (MD=-3.47, 95% CI [-7.27, 0.33]) and 5 times sit to stand tests (MD=-1.86, 95% CI [-5.27, 1.54]). Single studies where data could not be pooled showed no effect of exercise on behavioural symptoms or impact on informal carers. Conclusion: Exercise appeared to have a beneficial effect on improving balance performance among older people with dementia living in Asia, however, this evidence is limited and inconsistent, and should be interpreted with caution. Further high-quality large RCTs are necessary for advancing the evidence base of exercise interventions for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalHong Kong Physiotherapy Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Asia
  • caregivers
  • dementia
  • exercise
  • physical functional performance

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