Exercise with dementia

Seniors taking part in blood pressure exercises.

Exercise with dementia

You may have a friend or family member who has recently been diagnosed with a cognitive impairment or dementia. This can be a difficult time as you may not be sure what to do to help your friend in need. Read below to discover how exercise can play an important role in the quality of life of individuals with dementia.


What is cognitive impairment and dementia?

Cognitive impairment is neurocognitive disease which involves impairments of brain function which are not related to the normal process of aging and which are also not significant enough to interfere with essential activities of daily living. This presents as difficulties with memory, learning new things and concentrating. Whereas, Dementia is defined as progressive neurocognitive condition which impacts memory, personality, cognition. Additionally, it impacts the ability to perform activities of daily living such as dressing, eating, showering and walking.


Does physical activity reduce the risk of developing dementia?

Something that you may not know is that increasing your physical activity levels, decreases your risk of developing dementia. Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, improving many parts aspects of your health for instance improving and lung fitness, muscle and bone strength and mental health. Additionally, exercise is integral for providing adequate blood flow to the different parts of the brain and therefore assists in brain cell growth and survival. Several studies have found that engaging in exercise in all stages of life is associated with risk of cognitive decline and dementia and increases an individual’s cognitive reserve.


Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise:

Exercise may not be the first intervention considered when interacting with an individual with cognitive impairment or dementia. However there is a strong body of evidence to suggest the benefits of engaging in exercise for those with dementia. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Improved memory and cognition
  • Improved sleep and mood
  • Improved mobility in functional movements
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Improved communication skills
  • Reduced rate of disease related cognition decline
  • Maintenance of motor skills


What type of exercise should I engage in?

There are no specific guidelines for those with dementia however exercise should be focussed on the functional needs of the individual and their goals. For general health, there is evidences that aerobic exercise (cardio) and resistance training (weights). Balance training should be incorporated into all exercise programs for older adults.



  1. Please consult with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before engaging in an exercise plan. They will be able to create and individualised program suitable to the individuals needs
  2. Consider the impacts that cognitive impairment will have on the individual engaging in exercise, such as, motor planning, ability to remember exercise and motivation.
  3. Consider other health conditions or comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis . Consult with your GP if you have any questions about these health conditions.
  4. Start slowly. It may be unrealistic for an individual to reengage in a full exercise program after a long period of inactivity. Starting slow with an exercise program is the best way to ensure success in the long run.


Care for those you love with Pivotal Motion

If you require a exercise physiologist Brisbane to develop a dementia exercise plan, or just would like to find out more about what a talented everyday exercise physiology provider can do to help, get in touch. Feel free to call the Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy team on 07 3352 5116 or book online for a hand today!


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