Dementia – Exercise and physical activity

Swimming, under supervision, is a good activity for people with dementia. Many people find the sensation of being in the water soothing and calming. Some studies have also shown that swimming may improve balance and reduce the risk of falls in older people.

Exercise and physical activity may bring many benefits for people with dementia.  These include:

  • improving the health of the heart and blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
  • reducing the risk of some types of cancer (particularly breast and colon cancer), stroke and type 2 diabetes
  • improving physical fitness – maintaining strong muscles and flexible joints can help people maintain independence for longer
  • improving the ability to dress, clean, cook and perform other daily activities (as these may be performed more effectively if someone is fitter or more supple)
  • helping to keep bones strong and reducing the risk of osteoporosis (a disease that affects the bones, making them weak and more likely to break)
  • improving cognition – recent studies have shown that exercise may improve memory and slow down mental decline
  • improving sleep
  • providing opportunities for social interaction and reducing the feeling of isolation
  • reducing the risk of falls by improving strength and balance
  • improving confidence
  • increasing self-esteem
  • improving mood

Source: Alzheimer’s Society, alzheimers.org.uk