In healthy older people, studies suggest physical exercise can improve cognition. However, until now, whether physical exercise could improve symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s, or beneficially impact the physical changes in the brain caused by the disease, was unknown.
Based on resent results released at AAIC 2015, evidence shows that exercise or regular physical activity might play a role in both protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and also allowing individuals to live better with the disease once they have it.
Caregivers can help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia be more active and stay safe:
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several 10-minute “mini-workouts” may be best.
- Help get the activity started or join in to make the activity more fun.
- Find time in the morning for exercise.
- Break exercises into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
- Choose comfortable clothes that are suitable for the weather and appropriate shoes that fit well.
- Make sure both you and the person with dementia drink plenty of water when exercising.
Some physical activities to try:
- Take a walk together.
- Do simple tasks around the house, such as sweeping and raking.
- Work in the garden.
- Play music and dance.
- Throw a soft rubber exercise ball back and forth.
- Lift weights or household items such as soup cans.
- Use resistance bands, which you can buy in sporting goods stores. Be sure to follow the instructions.
- Register your favorite physical activity (walking, gardening, knitting, playing Scrabble, scrap-booking) for The Longest Day and help raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. Info at http://www.alz.org/longestday