This pilot study evaluated (a) the feasibility of a group exercise program in an institutionalized population with dementia; (b) the effects of such a program on physical performance measures; and (c) the potential additional effects of vitamin D supplementation on gait and muscle strength. Nursing home residents (N = 25) with chronic dementia and mobility impairments attended a thrice weekly exercise class for 8 weeks. They were randomly assigned to receive either a vitamin D supplement or no supplement throughout the program. Between-group differences in the effectiveness of the exercise intervention were analyzed. Pre-to-post changes were also assessed for both groups combined. In postexercise comparisons of both groups, knee extensor torque at 0°/sec declined by 18.6% while performance of 1-RM for hip extension increased by 16.1%. Balance also improved. Although vitamin D levels increased significantly in the supplement group, the two groups did not differ in their response to the exercise intervention.
Ellen F. Binder is with the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Jewish Hospital at Washington University, 216 S. Kingshighway, St. Louis, MO 63110.