The Role of Exercise in Managing Dementia Symptoms
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The Role of Exercise in Managing Dementia Symptoms

Dementia is one of today’s major global health challenges. Worldwide, there are over 55 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, and 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

While no form of dementia is curable or reversible, it is possible to slow the progression of the disease. Physical exercise, for example, plays an important role in brain health for both cognitively healthy people and people who have a memory or cognitive disorder.

At Town Square, our goal is to help our members find better wellbeing and fulfillment not only with our socially engaging, creative, and fun adult day programming based on reminiscence therapy, but by incorporating health practices such as guided exercise and nutrition. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a free tour, or read further to find out more on the benefits of exercise for people with dementia.

Cognitive Effects of Exercise

Research published by the Mayo Clinic shows that patients with mild cognitive impairment or dementia achieve higher cognitive scores after six to 12 months of exercise than patients with a sedentary lifestyle. But how does exercising the body have positive effects on the brain?

One theory is that exercise improves circulation to the brain, bringing more oxygen-rich blood to brain cells and helping to keep them healthy. While the exact mechanism linking exercise and cognitive health isn’t fully clear at this time, what is well known is that regular physical activity does improve both cognitive ability and emotional regulation through relieving anxiety and stress.

Improved Cognitive Function

Studies have also shown that physical exercise — such as walking, swimming, or playing tennis — can actually increase the volume of the brain’s gray matter. It may also improve blood flow and ensure the brain has enough energy by supporting proper glucose and lipid metabolism.

As a result of all these effects, exercise can help improve memory, attention, and learning in people of all ages, and it’s particularly important for people who are at risk of developing dementia or who have this condition.

Physical Benefits of Exercise for Dementia Patients

Exercise also plays a role in managing dementia symptoms by reducing the risk of other conditions that can impact the progression of dementia, such as diabetes, insomnia, and high blood pressure.

One of the most critical physical benefits of exercise for managing dementia is heart health. There’s a clear link between cardiovascular diseases and cognitive decline. Additionally, research from the journal Neurology estimates that approximately 10% of dementia cases are rooted in vascular issues — when a decline in memory and thinking skills is caused by reduced blood flow to certain areas of the brain.

That’s not all. Exercise also helps seniors with dementia preserve as much independence as possible, impacting both the individual — by increasing their quality of life and self-esteem — and caregivers.

Exercises such as yoga and tai chi improve balance and mobility. Brisk walking, bowling, dancing, and seated exercises also help to build strength and support cardiovascular health.

Introduce More Exercise Into Your Loved One’s Life at Town Square

At Town Square, we give our members a chance to get active, form social connections, show their creativity, and experience the benefits of professional dementia care modalities such as reminiscence therapy. The varied daily activities in our centers include fun and innovative forms of gentle exercise. We strive to offer the absolute best in senior day care services, helping our members find fulfillment and their loved ones find peace of mind. See your nearest Town Square location or contact us today to find out more.