The Importance of Exercise with Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Monday the 14th of December 2015.

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Exercise has long been recommended as a beneficial boost both to physical and mental health, so it’s no surprise to learn that it’s just as valuable for people living with dementia as it is for everyone else. No matter what age you are or what stage of dementia you or your loved one is experiencing, there are plenty of exercise options available. Here’s what you need to know:

Why is it so important?

Exercise is vital for people with dementia for many different reasons. Firstly, from a purely physical point of view, exercise is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staving off illnesses and other conditions. A large number of people living with dementia are in their later years, meaning they are already at risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Regular exercise is a great way to keep these conditions at bay.
Secondly, maintaining physical ability is very important for people with dementia, who often find themselves becoming dependent on loved ones or carers faster than they’d like. Maintaining the ability to carry out physical everyday tasks such as dressing, cooking, or going to the shops will all help with maintaining the mental ability to do these tasks as well. In fact, some studies have shown that keeping up a certain level of exercise can even have a positive effect on memory and cognition, making exercise more important than ever.
Lastly, exercise is often recommended to people living with mental health conditions for its natural endorphin-releasing and mood-boosting properties. Since many people with dementia often go through depression or anxiety as part of their condition, exercise can be a great way to overcome or cope with these feelings.

What should we do?

Finding an appropriate exercise routine will all depend on each individual’s unique factors, such as age, current level of physical ability, or current stage of dementia. People with early- to mid-stage dementia might enjoy gardening, walking, or bowls for example while those with late-stage dementia may be more comfortable with a seated physical exercise DVD.
There are also a range of dementia exercise activities available that are designed specifically for people living with the condition. Why not try out our Spa Ball Multipack? These are designed for gentle exercise that improves coordination, dexterity, and mobility.