Dementia and Physical Activity: Exercises That Can Help

Similarly, they can partake in exercises, with the right care..

Dementia and Physical Activity Exercises That Can Help

Dementia and Physical Activity: Exercises That Can Help

Similarly, they can partake in exercises, with the right care and help, to keep themselves as physically fit as possible.

Appropriate exercises can refresh the outlook of people in all stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It releases brain chemicals that help them become more positive and beat feelings related to depression and restlessness.

Besides improved, strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health, exercise has many other benefits for a person with dementia. These include improved mood, better sleep, enhanced memory, better communication, and social skills, and reduced chances of mental decline associated with the diseases.

Exercise for those who have dementia can include everything from hardcore weight lifting to more pleasant, less exercise-like activities such as gardening and even golfing. However, before proceeding, always make sure to talk to the doctor about starting them on a new exercise program.

Getting started with an exercise program

Just like everyone else, dementia patients should warm up before starting their exercise, and take time to cool down at the end slowly. Start with shorter durations, say 10 to 15 minutes of exercise, and then gradually work your way up from there.

The workouts should happen in a safe environment with a right amount of lighting, non-slippery surfaces and comfortable floors. If the patient is having issues with maintaining balance, there should be a rail or something to grab onto within reach.

If at any time during the exercise they feel weak or sick, or it begins to hurt, the activity must be stopped immediately. Next, seek professional healthcare and advice.

The person with dementia should be given clear directions. The carer should be face to face with them, and they should do the exercises together in a well-aired space. Start with 2 or 3 of the following exercises, making sure each activity lasts for no longer than 10 minutes.

If the person is enjoying themselves, then it’s okay to repeat the exercises twice a day as well. Maybe add a little music to make the task more pleasant. Encourage them patiently, be kind and don’t expect dramatic results anytime soon.

The right exercises for people with dementia

According to Dementiatalk, engaging in physical activities helps release hormones like endorphins, which gives rise to positivity and happiness along with an improved self-esteem.

Therefore, it’s essential to encourage the person living with dementia to take up any form of exercise. Some suggestions include:

1.   Walking

An all-rounder of exercises, walking works all the muscles of the body, and it’s free. Walking for a few minutes every day helps Alzheimer’s patients work off their restlessness.

Some research also suggests that brisk walks every other day improve memory and keep them in good physical shape. Walking also holds hope for people who have vascular dementia, giving them a chance at improving their brain function.

2.   Cycling

The caregiver of a dementia patient can help them by tandem bicycling if they are having trouble with their balance. A tandem bicycle allows you to sit in the front and take control of the actual cycling. The passenger sits at the back and just pedals along.

If this isn’t possible, then perhaps looks for an adult-sized 3-wheel bike so they could still maintain their balance and have a little fun cycling.

There is recent evidence that cycling can minimize the risk of advancing dementia even in old age. That’s why men and women over the age of 60 should consider doing it for at least 45 minutes four times a week. Also, include interval training into the mix to maximize the results.

3.   Resistance or weight training

Research suggests that exercise programs that involve weight training can help delay the progression of dementia among the elderly.

And there’s a good reason for that. This kind of exercise strengthens the muscles, tendons, and ligaments across the body. This results in better bone density as well as postural support helping them maintain their balance and self-respect.

4.   Aerobic exercise

These exercises, performed over long periods of time, are incredibly beneficial for the body. Aerobics not only enhance the general health and fitness of a dementia patient but also increase the blood flow to the brain.

At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercises every other day of the week works well. You don’t have to attend gym sessions, because there are plenty of simple aerobic exercises that can be done at home as well. These include walking, jogging, dancing, swimming and working out to low-impact aerobic workout videos at home.

5.   Flexibility and balance exercises

Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients often have trouble standing up, walking straight and maintaining their balance. Flexibility exercises such as Pilates, tai chi, yoga, etc. can help people retain their balance.

These exercises work well in tandem with an exercise program and ensure long-term support for the muscles, improve coordination and strengthen the spine.

6.   Dancing

Seniors clubs have regular dancing parties for a reason. It’s an excellent exercise, for the body as well as the brain. Simple dance steps like square dancing work very well for seniors.

As long as dementia patients have a partner who can take the lead and help them learn, they can reap the benefits of a good dance session.

7.   Gardening

Raking and lawn mowing are better exercises than we give them credit for. As long as the dementia patient has a helping hand around, such as a caregiver to oversee their activities and help their movement, they should be able to enjoy gardening as an exercise.

According to a recent study, people who did regular gardening were able to reduce their risk of developing dementia by 36%. Fact is that gardening is a very refreshing exercise. Most elderly have already been practiced gardeners before the onslaught of dementia takes their lives away.

Gardening helps them feel comfortable doing an activity they love. If your loved one with dementia is unable to bend down, then build raised beds, and create a garden in a figure eight shape to make the activity more enjoyable.

And there you have it… Seven exercises and activities that can help your loved one with dementia build better physical strength. Let us know if you have any exercises that can be added to this list!

Author Bio:

About Ashley Rosa: Ashley Rosa is a freelance writer and blogger. As writing is her passion that why she loves to write articles related to the latest trends in technology and sometimes on health-tech as well.  She is crazy about chocolates. You can find her at twitter: @ashrosa2.


Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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