Epidemiological studies show a close relationship between physical activity and cognition. A causal relationship between physical activity and cognition has been observed in children, adolescents, older people without dementia, and in older people in a very early stage of dementia. Considering these positive effects, we argue that a decline in physical activity has a detrimental effect on cognition and behavior in patients with dementia. Merely living in a nursing home reduces the level of physical activity. The level of physical activity may even be reduced to a minimum when physical restraints are applied. The use of physical restraints coincides with stress, further aggravating the already existing neuropathology, which may increase stress and agitation even more. Exercise may reduce stress and agitation. © International Psychogeriatric Association 2010.