Physical activity, movement and exercise for people with dementia

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

  1. You are here: Physical activity, movement and exercise for people with dementia
  2. Getting started with exercise as a person with dementia
  3. Exercise types and ideas for people with dementia
Physical activity and exercise
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Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It can help improve your overall wellbeing and bring other advantages. For example, it can give you opportunities to spend time with other people and help you be independent. 

Many people find that physical activity makes them feel more positive and more likely to keep doing the things they enjoy. Even short periods of light exercise are more beneficial than not exercising at all.

Physical activity may improve some aspects of memory. For example, it can help you to have clearer memories of certain events, whether or not you have dementia. 

Alongside other factors such as diet, physical activity may also help to lower the risk of developing the condition at all. However, physical activity has not been shown to slow down or prevent dementia from progressing once a person has the condition.  

There are still many health benefits of physical activity, both physically and psychologically for everyone. 

The benefits of movement and physical activity

Physical benefits of exercise

Routinely engaging in exercise and movement can help your body in lots of different ways.

  • Improving the health of your heart and blood vessels. This can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Maintaining coordination and balance. Exercises that involve moving different parts of your body in different directions help with this.
  • Improving blood supply and nutrients to the brain. This can help thinking skills and memory.
  • Reducing the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
  • Improving your physical fitness. Maintaining strong muscles and flexible joints can help you do things for yourself. This includes dressing, cleaning and cooking.
  • Improving hand-eye coordination. This is the way that your hands and eyesight work together for some tasks. Such as when eating, tying laces or hitting a ball while playing tennis.
  • Helping to keep bones strong and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. This is a disease that makes bones weaker and more likely to break.
  • Improving sleep quality and energy levels.
  • For some people, reducing the risk of falls by improving strength and balance. 

Psychological benefits of exercise

Exercise might also have a positive impact on your mental health.

  • Improving mental abilities. Some studies have shown that exercise might improve focus and attention.
  • Giving you more confidence and higher self-esteem.
  • Providing opportunities to meet and talk with others. This can help you maintain your sense of identity and prevent you from feeling isolated.
  • Improving your mood and symptoms of depression

Physical activity ideas for people with dementia

There are different types of movement and exercise that are more suitable to people depending on the stage of dementia and their physical abilities.

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