Keeping your elderly loved ones active is important for their continued health and well-being. Since exercise has been proven to boost the brain and ward off memory problems, it’s especially important those suffering from dementia. Being more active also often increases a person’s energy level, which makes them feel more productive and gives them a more positive attitude. However, you may wonder how much exercise should your loved ones get and what types of exercise is best to avoid injury. To ensure they get enough exercise, you may need to take a more active role in these pursuits.
Doctor’s Opinion First
Before starting any new exercise regime, always consult with your loved one’s doctor first. He can clearly outline how much exercise they need and recommend the best types of physical activity for their age and condition. Work with the doctor on ways to make being physically active easier for your loved ones and explaining the health risks of not staying active. You’ll need patience, as your loved ones may have concerns about hurting themselves or become confused about familiar activities.
Schedule Adequate Exercise
People over 65 should try to have some sort of physical activity every day. They should schedule cardiovascular/aerobic exercises that increase their heart rate and strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups. Those who’re still generally fit can tackle moderate aerobic activity and strive for at least 2 1/2 hours of walking or bicycling each week. If they’re capable of more vigorous activity, such as running or tennis, they could spend at least 1 1/2 hours per week doing these activities instead.
Either way, they should also include muscle strengthening exercises at least twice per week. If loved ones have weakened systems, poor balance or a higher risk of falling, they should seek exercises to improve their balance and coordination. These could include yoga or fun activities, like dancing. Water aerobics is also a great form of low impact exercise with a lowered risk of injury.
Exercise and Dementia
Staying physically active often has a significant, positive impact on dementia patients’ well-being. Exercise doesn’t just benefit them physically, it can also boost their mental health and improve their quality of live during various stages of the condition. As long as it’s safe, they should engage in cardiovascular exercise to elevate their heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow can improve brain function and reduce other potential risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. In the early stages of dementia, loved ones may experience difficulties in playing sports or participating in the activities they enjoy, but encourage them to continuing participating for as long as possible. As they enter later stages of dementia, participation in many physical activities becomes more limited.
While there isn’t a definitive answer to how much exercise your loved ones should get, encourage the recommended amounts listed above. Although the actual amount can vary from person to person, daily routines that help maintain strength and joint flexibility are highly important. However, they should only do as much exercise as their current physical condition allows. If they experience pain or feel sick while exercising, stop and seek their doctor’s advice.