The Effect of Exercise on Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Dementia

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Research suggests that regular physical activity plays a role in protecting the brain from cognitive impairment and can improve the quality of life for those already living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. A recent study on people with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease found that those who regularly engaged in physical activity showed more robust neural activity as well as improved cognitive ability. This physical activity did not have to be substantial or intense; some participants surveyed and studied reported only engaging in a short daily walk as their sole form of exercise.

Research also shows that regular exercise not only improves physical health but also mental health by decreasing feelings of anxiety, depression and aggression which are common in those living with dementia.  If someone you love is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, consider how you can get them involved in regular physical activity. If your loved one lives in a memory care center or you’re considering moving them to a center, be sure and ask about amenities and opportunities to engage in fitness related activities. An Alzheimer’s care center with a robust enrichment and fitness program is especially beneficial because it provides opportunities for socialization as well as physical fitness. Group activities engage your loved one to work out not only their body but also their brain and ultimately improves their quality of life. Whether your loved one lives at home or in a memory care center, here are some ways to incorporate daily physical activity:

  • Take a walk before or after meals
  • Practice light stretching
  • Have them help with light household chores (vacuuming, making beds, sweeping/mopping, sorting/organizing)
  • Play games like corn hole, ring toss, duck-pin bowling, etc.

Remember to consult your family member’s doctor before beginning an exercise program. Most importantly, make it fun!


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