Benefits of Physical Activity for Dementia
Although there is no cure for dementia, there are certain treatments that can help slow the progress of the disease. Dementia may rob the victim of their cognitive abilities, but there are some surprising ways that the progress can be altered. One of the more interesting is exercise. The benefits of physical activity for dementia may help slow down the effects while keeping those afflicted with the disease healthier.
The most obvious benefit is to their physical health and wellbeing. A good exercise routine helps to improve circulation, maintain muscle mass, and reduce stress. Add to that a healthy diet and you also help keep their weight in check. The exercises do not have to be strenuous and can be done a little at a time over the course of the day if need be. The result is a healthier person who has fewer illnesses.
Plus, walking can help improve memory thanks to the increase in circulation. Weight resistance training helps to focus attention, boost memory, and even have positive effects in conflict resolution. The many studies that have shown the improvement in overall health that exercise provides makes it imperative that everyone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease perform some type of workout on a regular basis.
One of the biggest dangers with those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is their tendency to wander about with no purpose. By engaging in meaningful exercise, it reduces the restlessness and urge to wander about with no purpose. This also means that they feel rested and relaxed which helps to keep them in one place.
Lowers Risk of Depression
Depression affects up to 23% of those who are afflicted with dementia. The effects of depression range from mood swings to further impairment of their cognitive abilities. The act of exercise releases natural endorphins into the blood stream which help to boost their mood and lessen the effects of depression overall.
Also, exercise can be combined with prescription medications that will help to control mood swings and offer a higher quality of life to the person with dementia.
Another benefit is the ability to sleep better and deeper thanks to the improved circulation. Not getting any exercise increases restlessness which in turn means waking up more often in the middle of the night. While this will not mean that all dementia patients will sleep soundly through the night, they do enjoy better sleep overall.
Improved Cognitive Ability
While exercise cannot restore memory, it can help improve the overall cognitive function which means that they are more likely to be aware of their surroundings, focus more on tasks, and have fewer moments of being confused or unable to understand what is happening around them.
In the end, while there is no cure, the benefits of physical activity for dementia brings about more than the boost to the overall condition but can be used with other treatments to help extend the cognitive abilities of those who have the disease.