Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity offers many benefits, including improvements in strength, balance, mobility, thinking abilities, and energy levels. People living with dementia often talk about the social benefits of physical activity first. People living with dementia can feel encouraged, supported, and included. Physical activity is also a chance to socialize with others.
Physical activity looks different for everyone. Physical activity choices are influenced by personal abilities, health conditions, goals, culture, experiences, and access to programs and facilities. The physical activity recommendations for people living with dementia are the same as for all adults. These include aerobic activities like walking or swimming, as well as activities that strengthen muscles and challenge balance. It is important to note that any amount of physical activity can be beneficial for people living with dementia.
This video titled “Staying Active Helps Me Live Well with Dementia” talks about some of the benefits of physical activity experienced by people living with dementia. The video was produced by the DREAM and Dementia-Inclusive Choices for Exercise (DICE) Teams.
Physical Activity Guidelines for People Living with Dementia
“It’s time to get active” was developed by the Ontario Brain Institute, and revised in partnership with the DREAM and Dementia-Inclusive Choices for Exercise (DICE) Teams. This resource shares information about general recommendations for physical activity and strategies to get active.
Dementia-Inclusive Physical Activity
Dementia-inclusive physical activity refers to physical activity opportunities, programs, and facilities that respect, support, and accommodate the needs of people living with dementia. You should be able to participate in physical activity where, when, and how you want. People delivering physical activity programs should understand dementia, and the unique abilities and preferences of each person living with dementia to ensure individual needs are met, and goals achieved. Close supervision and monitoring will also help to understand individual abilities, overcome challenges, and provide support when needed. Before becoming physically active or joining a new physical activity program, everyone should complete a Get Active Questionnaire (click here to view and download) to assess readiness and safety to be physically active.
This video titled “Dementia-Inclusive Exercise: A Little Support Goes a Long Way” discusses how small supports and changes can help support people living with dementia in physical activity, exercise, sport, and recreational programs and activities. The video was produced by the DREAM and the Dementia-Inclusive Choices for Exercise (DICE) Teams.
Advice for Being Active at Home
The Dementia-Inclusive Choices for Exercise (DICE) team developed this resource to provide advice for starting a physical activity program at home and supports that may help.
Supporting Physical Activity
Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults Ages 65 Years and Older
The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults provide guidance on what a healthy day looks like for Canadian adults aged 65 years and older.
DREAM Handout: Strategies for Physical Activity
This handout describes some physical activity challenges that may be experienced by people living with dementia, and strategies to get started and overcome them to maintain a physically active lifestyle.
Minds in Motion Program
This program is offered by many Alzheimer Societies in Canada. It is a physical activity and mental stimulation program for people living with dementia and family and friend care partners.
The DELIGHT program was developed to support the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and family and friend care partners. The DELIGHT healthy tip sheets give information and strategies to help people living with dementia live well.
Perspectives of People Living with Dementia on Physical Activity
Late Life Training developed this document to share the views, interests, experiences, and challenges of people living with dementia in physical activity.
Dementia-Inclusive Physical Activity
DREAM Wallet Card: People with Dementia
This foldable resource is to help people living with dementia to communicate personal abilities, experiences, and preferences. This may help community service providers to understand and adapt their program appropriately.
DREAM Wallet Card: People with Memory Challenges
This foldable resource is to help people with memory challenges to communicate their abilities, experiences, and preferences. This may help community service providers to understand and adapt their program appropriately.
Physical Activity Safety
For almost all people, including people living with dementia, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks. Even so, it is important to be aware of how existing health conditions and injuries affect the ability to be physically active. Before becoming physically active for the first time, it is wise to talk to a healthcare professional or physical activity provider.
DREAM Handout: Assess Physical Activity Safety
This handout describes the purpose and benefits of assessing safety for physical activity, and provides resources that can support safe participation.