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Background: Research indicates that exercise can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health in nursing home patients with dementia, however the lasting effect is rarely studied. In a previously published article we investigated the immediate effect of a 12 weeks functional exercise program on physical function and mental health in nursing home residents with dementia. In this paper we studied the long-term effect of this exercise program. We explored the differences between the exercise and control group from baseline to 6 months follow-up and during the detraining period from month 3 to 6. Methods: A single blind, randomized controlled trial was conducted and a total of 170 nursing home residents with dementia were included. The participants were randomly allocated to an intervention ( n = 87) or a control group ( n = 83). The intervention consisted of intensive strengthening and balance exercises in small groups twice a week for 12 weeks. The control condition was leisure activities. Thirty participants were lost between baseline and six-month follow-up. Linear mixed model analyses fo r repeated measurements were used to investigate the effect of exercise after detraining period. Results: The exercise group improved their scores on Berg Bal ance Scale from baseline to 6 months follow-up by 2.7 points in average. The control group deteriorated in the same period and the difference between groups was statistically significant ( p = 0.031). The exercise group also scored better on NPI agitation sub-score after 6 months ( p = 0.045). Conclusion: The results demonstrate long-time positive effect s of a high intensity functional exercise program on balance and indicate a positive effect on agitation, after an intervention period of 12 weeks followed by a detraining period of 12 weeks.
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