The Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle however many people do not meet the physical activity guidelines and spend too much time sitting. This is referred to as sedentary behaviour and is considered a major problem for society as it is related to conditions such as falls, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In general adults should be doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week (30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week). The 30 minutes of exercise can be broken down into ten minute sessions three times a day. Moderate intensity exercise means working hard enough to feel warm and slightly out of breath. On at least two days a week adults should try to improve muscle strength as part of their physical activity and older adults (over 65s) should also try physical activities to improve their balance at least two days a week. You should try to limit the amount of time you spend sitting.
Physical Activity and dementia
There is evidence that people with dementia are more sedentary than people without dementia (Netz et al 2007). It may be some of the difficulties people living with dementia have with every day activities may be due to the effects of physical inactivity and not due to the progression of the disease itself (Littbrand et al 2009).
Physical activity may benefit people with dementia in many ways including improved cognition, activities of daily living and independence, functional ability, and mental health. It can also promote socialisation if individuals are active outdoors or in groups, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation (Bowes et al 2013).
The benefits of increasing the amount of physical activity a person does will often far outweigh any risks. It is therefore essential that people with dementia remain as active as they can and engage in physical activity. It’s never too late to start being more physically active and something is better than nothing. If you are unused to being physically active build up what you do gradually and/or seek advice.
Allied Health Professionals, particularly physiotherapists have the appropriate knowledge, skills and expertise to promote people with dementia to be more physically active. Here are three things a physiotherapist CAN help you with if you are living with dementia or are a family member:
- Physiotherapists CAN prescribe a tailored exercise programme with a specific goal such as increasing strength, flexibility, balance, co-ordination or cardiovascular fitness to allow individuals to engage in more physical activity.
- Physiotherapy CAN provide advice about how to incorporate more physical activity in people’s routines, taking into account people’s likes, dislikes and preferences. This often includes advice to other professionals and carers.
- Physiotherapy CAN also signpost to resources and refer to other agencies such as voluntary and leisure organisations who can also promote physical activity.
To find out more about physiotherapy and what we CAN do if you are living with dementia , come along to the Alzheimer Scotland Annual conference on the 3rd June and have a blether with me at the AHP stand in the exhibition centre. We are on stand 26 and we are called
“Allied Health Professionals – who are they & how they can help you”
You can also connect with me and comment on my blog post or asking yourself, is there anything you could do to increase your physical activity levels or the physical activity levels of someone you support?
UK Physical Activity Guidelines please see the link below; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-physical-activity-guidelines
Further advice about physical activity can also be found in the Dementia and Physical Activity Leaflet which can be found at the links below; http://www.knowledge.scot.nhs.uk/media/CLT/ResourceUploads/4075217/f3262c31-b1df-43a0-8606-b8c008817f74.pdf
If you support individuals living in a care setting please see The Care about Physical Activity; Make Every Move Count Resource. This resource offers support for everyone in a care home to get involved and become physically active in different ways ands not just through formal exercise sessions. This will help national and local organisations to promote physical activity in care homes. It is designed to stimulate simple solutions and practical approaches to enable all residents to choose to be active every day. The resource can be found on the Care Inspectorate website. http://www.careinspectorate.com/index.php/guidance?id=2615
Bowes, A., Dawson, A., Jepson, R. And McCabe, L. (2013) Physical activity for people with dementia: a scoping study. BMC Geriatrics, 13:129
Littbrand, H., Lundin-Olsson, L., Gustafson, Y. and Rosendahl, E. (2009) The Effect of a high-intensity functional exercise program on activities of daily living: a randomized controlled trial in residential care facilities. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57, pp. 1741-1749.
Netz, Y., Axelrad, S. and Argov, E. (2007) Group physical activity for demented older adults – feasibility and effectiveness. Clinical Rehabilitation, 21, pp. 977-986.
Lanarkshire Care Home Liaison Physiotherapist
I am a physiotherapist with over 24 years experience working in a variety of care settings. I am currently Lanarkshire Care Home Liaison Physiotherapist. I am passionate about dementia, falls prevention and active aging.