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Get Moving to Benefit Mind, Body, & Spirit

Matthew Ralph-Savage

We know that people living with dementia need to stay active to maintain mobility, but the benefits of movement outweigh that of just muscle and joint coordination. Physical activity is shown to increase brain function and boost social and emotional wellbeing.

The following are examples of ways incorporating physical activity into a daily routine can help support people with Alzheimer’s and dementia;


 

Improved Mood

Physical activity will release endorphins that can improve a person’s mood. There can also be an increase of confidence from independence that can come from strength and conditioning gained from physical activities.

Improved Memory

We know that physical activity can boost cognitive function, which can help with memory loss issues. Exercising can stimulate the brain and provide the needed support to try and reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Increases Strength

People living with dementia can experience decreased mobility resulting in a sense of helplessness. Physical activity can increase strength, so people may be able to do things themselves they couldn’t do before, like lifting certain items. The sense of independence boosts self-esteem. Moreover, increased strength can also reduce risks of falls for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Living with dementia puts you at high risk due to the decline in motor skills, but physical activity can support balance and stability.

Better Communication

Independence skills were mentioned, however with increased physical activity comes increased energy and cognitive function which can also benefit communication and social skills.

Reduce Pain

Physical activity can improve flexibility and relieve pain in problem areas. For those with arthritis or living with muscular discomfort, regular movement can relax the joints and minimize pain and pressure points.

 

 

Planning Activities

 

Avoid over-stimulation. People living with dementia or those with Alzheimer’s can become easily overwhelmed and overstimulated which has adverse effects. When selecting physical activities, start with something a little more low key to gauge levels of interest and engagement. Focus on the fun and enjoyment. Don’t put pressure on fitness goals or overexertion. Even the slightest movement can have a major impact.

Walking

Walking is one of the easiest ways to get anyone exercising. Taking a walk around the block, or even just walking around inside. Get the blood flowing and clear the mind. For some, just talking a walk to run an errand or taking the dog to the park is enough to boost wellbeing.

Stretching

Daily stretching and simple yoga poses can be relaxing physical activities for people living with dementia. Whether sitting or standing, basic stretches can improve limited mobility.

Dancing

Get your groove on. Turn up the music and get moving. Spark joy while encouraging memory function and physical activity with dance…and don’t forget to have some fun.

Water Exercise

If you have access to a pool, aquatics is an excellent way to encourage low impact physical activity. Water activities also provide natural resistance to help with muscle gains and strength, as well.

 

Movement and physical activities are an excellent way to engage people with dementia. The increase in strength and cognitive function boosts wellbeing and offers social and emotional therapies that help maintain relationships and keep people engaged. Relish offers activities and ideas to boost wellbeing in those affected with memory loss. An invaluable resource to the dementia and Alzheimer’s community, for over 10 years Relish has designed and developed ways to help family, friends and caregivers make meaningful connections and engage people living with memory loss. Visit relish-life.com to learn more about staying active and bringing joy to life when living with dementia.