The link between exercise and dementia

As a middle-distance runner and Challenge event ambassador for Dementia UK, exercise plays a central role in Adelle Tracey’s life. Here she shares her top tips for leading a physically active life and how it can reduce your risk of dementia.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Research suggests that up to one in three cases of dementia is preventable*. None of us can avoid getting older, which is a risk factor for dementia, but other risk factors include lack of exercise and poor physical health, and we can certainly take control of our routines. of physical and mental health.

My favorite exercise is of course running! But anything goes, as long as our heart rate increases and we breathe more deeply. Remember that exercise can take many different forms. It doesn’t have to involve running long distances or playing sports. Light stretching, guided meditation, or chair yoga are all good for our minds and bodies.

A regular walk

For many, regular brisk walking is a great, easy way to improve their overall fitness. The next time you plan to get in the car for a five-minute ride, try walking instead. You will quickly see your number of steps increase!

Not only does walking have health benefits on an individual level, but it can also allow you to spend time with others. This is backed up by the recent Dementia UK survey, which found that more than two-fifths (42%) of family members caring for someone with dementia say going for a walk is their favorite activity to do together . My grandmother suffered from vascular dementia and I have always enjoyed the times we shared together walking through the RHS Gardens in Wisley.

In addition to “everyday” activities, such as walking, gardening or cleaning, exercises such as swimming are particularly interesting. It provides a full body workout to ultimately build endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness.

Your mental well-being

Physical activity has the added benefit of supporting your mental well-being. By getting your body moving, you can improve your mood and self-esteem, which can be beneficial at any stage of your life.

It is also important to take care of yourself if you are helping someone with dementia. Data from Dementia UK shows that more than half (55%) of carers believe their physical health has been negatively affected as a result of caring for someone with dementia. It can be hard to prioritize yourself when supporting someone else, but incorporating fun activities, like dancing or playing with your kids, could help put a smile on your face while keeping you in shape.

The power to socialize

Another way to balance physical and mental health is to socialize with others. Group activities like tennis and fitness classes are ideal for this, as talking to people in group situations can provide opportunities for social engagement, which supports a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Health checks

As well as looking at your daily activities and exercise regime, don’t forget to take advantage of a free health check from your GP. This gives you the opportunity to have your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels checked to ensure they are being managed well.

Be a family caregiver

Supporting someone with dementia can be difficult. I really felt that exercise was a great outlet for me and my family while supporting my grandmother. The time spent walking together has helped us feel less stressed and running has always allowed me to disconnect from my emotions.

More people need to understand that when you love someone with dementia, you also live with them. This is why Dementia UK’s #ILiveWithDementia campaign is so important. As well as highlighting the impact dementia has on those who support someone with the disease, the campaign is also telling more people about the charity’s life-changing support through its specialist in dementia, Admiral Nurses.

To learn more, visit dementiauk.org/ILiveWithDementia or search social media using the hashtag #ILiveWithDementia.

*https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/research-and-innovation/removing-nine-risk-factors-could-prevent-third-of-dementia-cases-20-07-2017/

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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