You may not realize it, but exercise and Alzheimer’s have a very strong connection. Physical activity isn’t just good for your physical health: It is well-established that it is good for your cognitive health as well. Today, we’re diving deeper into that mind-body connection, and its implications for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Physical activity and the brain
Let’s start with some of the ways exercise can impact your brain in general. Studies have found that exercise boosts memory and thinking skills. In fact, a regular physical fitness routine is associated with increased volume in the regions of the brain that control thinking and memory.
Additionally, physical activity can improve mood and increase the quality of your sleep. Both these factors can further improve thinking and memory: getting a good night’s rest leads to increases in your brain’s functioning and memory.
Physical activity and Alzheimer’s
Based on the findings about exercise, thinking, and memory above, it should come as no surprise that exercise can have an impact on Alzheimer’s. As many people know, memory loss is one of the key symptoms of Alzheimer’s. So if physical activity helps to stimulate the brain and improve memory, does it offer protection against Alzheimer’s and other dementias?
In short, likely yes. Studies have been conducted in this arena and have found that people who exercise on a regular basis earlier in life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s down the line. It seems that a consistent physical fitness routine may offer protection against Alzheimer’s.
For those already suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, exercise still offers important benefits. While it can by no means cure or reverse dementia, physical activity has been shown to help maintain current brain size and cognitive functioning. Exercise could be an important tool to fight the cognitive decline that accompanies Alzheimer’s. In fact, in a study specifically focused on older adults, researchers found that physical exercise helped improve working memory.
Physical activity in our homes
Knowing all of this information about the fantastic benefits of physical activity, we are sure to incorporate exercise into life in our homes regularly! At Dolan Memory Care Homes, we offer our residents a variety of physical activities. Each of our memory care homes contains exercise equipment our residents can make use of as they please. We have a walking club in which residents and Care Partners walk around our secure backyards together, enjoying the fresh air and getting active. Additionally, we host classes in areas like stretching, weight-bearing exercises, and Tai Chi.
Physical activity for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is important. We always keep sight of this, and our compassionate Care Partners do all they can to ensure our residents are safe, happy, and active!