Research continues to show that physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your brain. In fact, some studies say 150 minutes of physical exercise per week can reduce older adults’ risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50%.
So how do seniors who may have lost some of their get-up-and-go over the years get up and go for 150 minutes a week?
For Yourself or a Loved One with Memory Loss:
Make Exercise Manageable and Fun
“First,” suggests Suzy McCann, Community Relations Director of YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, Florida, “try breaking this goal into more manageable blocks of time. When you consider 2.5 hours a week is only 21.5 minutes a day, you may realize it doesn’t require a lot of extra work for your brain to reap a lot of benefits.”
Second, remember Newton’s First Law of Motion that states an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Start small with a physical activity you enjoy and see where it takes you!
Third, consider wearing a smart fitness tracker that records your total steps, heart rate, activity levels and more. “Visualizing your progress can motivate you to meet your goals,” says Suzy. “Many trackers can even be programmed to remind you to move if you’ve been sitting for too long.”
Find What Moves You
Taking up activities you actually enjoy can get you in a groove and keep you there. Gardening, swimming and nature walks can stimulate your mind – or create spaces for healing meditation – while improving flexibility and strengthening your core and cardio system.
Try These 12 Simple Physical Activities for Older Adults and Those with Memory Loss:
1. Walking. Add a few extra minutes to your dog’s daily walks, park further away from store entrances (make sure parking spaces are safe and well-lit), or when you get home – since you’re already outside – take a walk around the block before going inside.
2. Sit to stand exercises. These routines strengthen muscles needed for maintaining mobility and independence
3. Practice holding your balance while standing. This improves balance and posture and can be part of an everyday activity like washing dishes. If doing as a standalone exercise, hold on to a secure railing or stationary chair back.
4. Sit up straight without a backrest for a few minutes a day. This strengthens the abdominal and back muscles needed for good posture.
5. Stretch while lying in bed. Move your arms, legs and other stiff body parts to stretch muscles, increase flexibility and prevent injury.
6. Stretch and balance. Try this simple chair stretching routine or strength and balance routine.
7. Tai chi. These senior-friendly routines can be adapted for a variety of physical conditions
8. Gardening. Raking, pulling weeds and planting flowers is a great full-body workout and gives you a lovely yard and sense of accomplishment!
9. Household chores. Folding laundry, dusting, light vacuuming or washing the car are also multi-beneficial and rewarding.
10. Dancing. Even swaying to a brisk beat can get the blood and serotonin pumping. If you’re able, turn up your favorite music and have a dance party in your living room. Check out senior centers for senior-friendly dance instructions.
11. Fitness class. Some senior centers or similar organizations offer classes specifically for people with dementia.
12. Water Activities. Take a water aerobics or water-resistance training class at the local YMCA or senior center pool.
Take Tips from Maria Shriver’s Move for Minds Program
Move for Minds educates men and women on cognitive and physical health, the latest on Alzheimer’s research, and diet and exercise habits that may help fight dementia.
• Hiking. Getting a workout while enjoying nature is a great brain boost.
• Yoga. Yoga improves blood flow to the brain and keeps unhealthy stress-induced symptoms at bay.
Check out Move for Minds fundraising events and activities in your area. Getting involved is a win-win way to support the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement while learning new expert-recommended exercises and healthy eating tips to try at home.
Try Love to Move: A Chair-Based Exercise Program for People with Dementia
This special dementia exercise therapy program developed by the British Gymnastics Foundation (BGF) improves abilities and quality of life for older adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Inspired by successful cognitive stimulation, memory arousal and music programs developed in Asia, the chair-based Love to Move program requires focused concentration to perform different movements with the right and left sides of the body simultaneously.
This dual activity has shown to reduce depression and improve cognitive function, coordination, balance and the ability to perform everyday tasks like feeding oneself, participating in activities, and communicating with family and friends.
BGF’s pilot program showed amazing results:
• 71% of participants had noticeable physical improvements
• 86% were socializing more with other residents and staff
• 93% seemed happier and more settled
• 100% were easier to connect with
To try Love to Move exercises at home or to help a loved one with memory loss participate, print BGF’s free booklet featuring four essential exercises. Clear instructions with photos and expert tips are included.
See how YourLife™ of Pensacola inspires residents to stay in motion. Contact our team at 850-290-2632 to schedule your personal visit.
The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.
Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles.
Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible.
At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more!