Why Exercise is Key for Adults with Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s Disease

Sunrise Senior Living  |  November 24, 2021
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Exercise is important at every age. It offers benefits for physical and mental well-being. For older adults, staying active also helps build core strength and protect balance, both of which can lower the risk of falls.

As we grow older, engaging in regular exercise is linked to many health benefits. These include managing weight, protecting cognitive health, reducing stress, and maintaining mobility. It may even help seniors avoid or delay dozens of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, depression, and heart disease.

For some health conditions, exercise is especially important for delaying disease progression. Two of these are Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Productive Days

One of the challenges caregivers face when a loved one has Alzheimer’s is how to keep their family member active and engaged as their disease advances. While physical activity and socialization can delay the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms, a conflict sometimes occurs.

A senior in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may be reluctant to participate in social activities because they know something is wrong. By sticking close to home, they can avoid potential embarrassment if they don’t remember a friend’s name or have difficulty keeping up their end of a conversation.

When you visit a memory care community, one thing that is obvious is just how much productive benefits residents with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. You’ll likely witness residents with memory loss participating in painting classes, stretching exercises, gardening projects, and more. When the days are filled with meaningful activity, including those that keep them moving and fit, the senior feels confident and successful. For someone with a memory impairment, that’s a big accomplishment.

Activity and Parkinson’s Disease

Like people who have Alzheimer’s, adults with Parkinson’s disease (PD) benefit from socializing and engaging in physical activity. Exercise is especially important. It’s necessary for maintaining mobility, good balance, and an ability to complete daily tasks.

The Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, a clinical study that began in 2009, has discovered that people with PD can slow the progression of the disease by engaging in routine physical fitness. The sooner a person begins exercising after a diagnosis of PD, the more likely it is they’ll be able to stay active longer.

Results indicate that when people with PD engage in physical activity at least 2.5 hours per week, they are able to maintain a higher quality of life than peers who do not exercise or those who waited to start exercising until their disease had already progressed. Fitness activities such as Tai Chi, cycling, walking, resistance bands, light weight training, and swimming are a few forms of exercise found to be helpful.

Assisted Living Encourages Fitness

One of the many benefits of an assisted living community is how easy it is to stay active and fit. This includes special programs for adults with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. On-site activities provide choices for residents to participate in different types of fitness, art, and music programs. It’s an environment that promotes an overall better quality of life.

The best way to learn more is to schedule an in-person or virtual tour of a Sunrise community. Enter your zip code to find a list of assisted living communities near you!


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