Physical activity and exercise

Leading a physically active lifestyle can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of people with dementia.


Exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and may improve the quality of life for people in all stages of the condition. Physical activities are sometimes defined as those activities that increase your heart rate and cause you to breathe more deeply. This includes everyday activities such as walking, gardening or dancing, as well as sports and exercises with the specific aim of improving fitness. This page explains why being physically active is important for people with dementia. It gives examples of suitable exercises and physical activities for people in different stages of the condition and suggests how much activity is appropriate.

Exercise and wellbeing

Taking regular physical exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and can help to maintain wellbeing. Physical activity creates valuable opportunities to socialise with others, and can help improve and maintain a person's independence. This is beneficial to both people with dementia and their carers. Engaging in physical activities can also improve self-esteem and mood, which in turn encourages more social engagement that may also contribute to wellbeing.

When is exercise not appropriate?

It is important to exercise only as much as your current physical condition allows. Over-exercising may be bad for your health.

If someone experiences pain or feels unwell while taking part, or after increasing their activity levels, they should stop the exercise and seek medical advice.

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