It is important that people stay physically active, even after a diagnosis of dementia. Though it may not be as easy as it once was, there are simple ways to keep the body active and moving, which can have positive impacts on the person’s body and brain.
Exercise does not have to be a large, extravagant feat. Exercise can be as simple as walking, dancing, gardening, chair exercises, swimming, etc.
The obvious benefit of regular exercise is to build and maintain muscle strength and balance. Gaining and maintaining this strength and balance can make mobility easier and can prevent hazardous falls. These muscles can also help someone remain independent for a longer period of time. For example, maintaining the ability to cook, clean, get dressed, and perform other activities of daily living.
Exercise gets, and keeps, blood flowing properly throughout your body. Good blood flow can improve circulation, blood pressure, and more. There are some research studies that suggest exercise can assist in preventing or delaying cognitive decline.
Exercise can also provide mental stimulation. It takes brain power to concentrate on balance, strengthening moves, and even fun recreational exercise like bowling or gardening.
Exercise not only has physical benefits, but emotional ones as well. When we exercise, whether or not we have dementia, endorphins and serotonin levels rise in our brains, creating positive emotions. Exercise can also provide social benefits if individuals attend an exercise group or interact with others in a group setting such as a bowling league or gardening group.
It is important to know that exercise (both duration and intensity) looks different for each person. It is important to consult with your physician before beginning any exercise routine that is out of your “norm.” Certainly, if you feel weak, light-headed, or are experiencing an abnormal amount of pain while you exercise, seek medical advice.