The Best Exercises for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients
How Cardiovascular Exercise Stimulates the Brain
Movement is life.
As we age, it takes longer for blood flow to reach the brain. The best way to promote brain stimulation is through physical activity and cardiovascular exercises.
When we move our body, we can:
- Activate our cognition and stimulate our brain function
- Keep our muscles, joints, and heart in good shape
- Help us maintain a healthy weight
- Promote good sleep habits
This is especially important for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. But here’s a roadblock that many older adults and their caregivers face: The side effects of these conditions include trouble with endurance, a lack of coordination, depression, and a general lack of interest in exercising.
If you or someone you love is struggling with physical activity, we have some tips to begin implementing a regular exercise routine.
- Don’t overdo it. Exercise can be simple. Aim for small movement or exercise “breaks” during the day, rather than one longer session.
- Turn household tasks into exercise. If a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient is disinterested in exercise, try sweeping, dusting, wiping windows, or another simple household chore.
- Dress for the activity. Make sure to dress appropriately in comfortable, well–fitting clothing and shoes intended for exercise.
- When in doubt, go for a walk. Regular, brisk walking has many benefits: It can help you lose body fat, improve endurance, improve your balance, reduce stress, and increase your energy level. This is also an easy activity to do with a friend, caregiver, or family member.
- Ride a stationary bike. If you are worried about a loved one walking without a caregiver, consider setting up a stationary bike in their home instead. Cycling indoors is safe, provides a great low–impact workout, and strengthens lower body muscles.
- Incorporate weight training. Research has found that lifting weights can promote cognitive performance and help protect the brain from degeneration. There are many online videos available to help guide you or your loved one through a simple strength training workout.
Whether you or your loved one is experiencing the early symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s or not, regular exercise is always a good idea. Remember the power of exercise to improve our cognition, boost our mood, and generally make us feel better: It is so important to keep moving!