We’ve all felt that surge of rejuvenation after taking a stroll in the crisp morning air. For others, a good bout of gardening tends to produce a feeling of calm and relaxation. Whatever be the choice of physical activity, those who tend to be more active tend to be healthier and feel better.
Physical Activity and Dementia
While the benefits of being physically active in healthy adults has been well researched, the relationship between physical activity and dementia is only now being slowly unpeeled. Given that that medications currently cannot cure dementia, interest in understanding the benefits of regular exercise on the risk of getting dementia and even modifying the course of the disease, has substantially increased. Physical activity as a non-drug intervention to improve the quality of life in people with dementia has risen to prominence.
According to a study, physical activity can reduce dementia risk and moderate cognitive impairment. Several other studies have demonstrated the potential of regular exercise in mid-life in reducing risk of getting dementia later in life. Exercise reduces your risk of cardiovascular diseases (such as hypertension and blood pressure), often seen to occur along with dementia.
What kinds of physical activity should one do, and for how long?
While evidence to answer this question is still emerging current guidelines can help. Your physical activity plan should consist of at least two forms of exercise: (i) aerobic, to increase your heart rate and sustain that increase for at least 20-30 minutes per session, and (ii) strength, through resistance or weight training.
At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is required for older adults to benefit. This can come from a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises. While this could sound daunting at first, it is only the equivalent of 30 mins a day – and with the weekend off. You can add in a mix of brisk walking, yoga, gardening or even tai-chi to make the activity interesting and less of a chore.
What else can physical activities help with?
Other benefits of physical activity in people with dementia include elevated mood (with the potential to improve quality of sleep), improved balance (lowering the risk of falls) and better overall mobility increasing a person’s independence.
If you are taking care of a person with dementia think about creating a daily routine that includes some form of exercise for both the person with the condition and yourself. Start slowly and build your way up gradually to the recommended guidelines.
zelar was specifically designed to help you plan and track your daily activities. Use the app to set care goals for yourself or the person you are taking care of, and then monitor your progress as you move to achieve your goals.
What’s good for the heart, is good for the mind. Be active. It helps.
1. Motivating mature adults to be physically active, Etnier J et al, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity 2017
2. Physical activity in older age: perspectives for healthy ageing and frailty, McPhee Jamie et al, Biogerentology 2016
3. Physical activity is medicine for older adults, Taylor D, Postgraduate Medical Journal 2014
4. Physical Exercise as a Preventive or Disease-Modifying Treatment of Dementia and Brain Aging, Ahlskog J et al, Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2011