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Physical activity engagement strategies in people with dementia – a focus group study

Harwood, Rowan H.; van der Wardt, Veronika; Hancox, Jennie; Pollock, Kristian; Logan, Pip; Vedhara, Kavita; Harwood, Rowan

Physical activity engagement strategies in people with dementia – a focus group study Thumbnail


Rowan H. Harwood

Veronika van der Wardt

Jennie Hancox

Professor of Rehabilitation Research

Kavita Vedhara


Objective: This focus group study aimed to explore how to motivate people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia and their carers to engage in exercise and physical activity.

Methods: Four focus groups were conducted with six people with MCI or dementia, three carers and four clinicians (nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapists). A thematic analysis of the data was undertaken.

Results: Five main themes were identified: ‘memory problems’, ‘self-motivation’, ‘external motivation’, ‘design of activities’ and ‘barriers’. Participants viewed exercise positively but emphasised that it needed to fit into their daily routine. Goal-setting was seen as helpful by some participants but others saw this as a source of potential failure. Enjoyment was seen as key to engagement.

Conclusion: Exercise and physical activity interventions need an individualised approach to engage people with MCI or dementia, with a positive emphasis on enjoyment. Goal-setting should be used with caution in this group of people.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 23, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 7, 2019
Publication Date Jan 1, 2020
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 29, 2019
Journal Aging & Mental Health
Print ISSN 1360-7863
Electronic ISSN 1364-6915
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 8
Pages 1326-1333
Keywords Dementia, physical activity, exercise, motivation, behaviour change
Public URL
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