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Exercise and Alzheimer's Disease

Exercise & Nutrition

For people with Alzheimer’s disease, physical activity should be continued for as long as possible. This is to help prevent muscle weakness and to help prevent other health complications associated with inactivity. Exercise may raise brain chemicals that help protect nerve cells. Exercise also promotes a normal day and night routine, and may help improve mood.

You should check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Your doctor may make recommendations about:

  • The types of exercise best suited to you and those to avoid
  • The intensity of the workout (how hard you should be working)
  • The duration of your workout and any physical limitations
  • Referrals to other professionals, such as a physical therapist who can help you create your own personal exercise program

The type of exercise that works best for you depends on your symptoms, fitness level, and overall health. The final precaution, when you get the OK to begin exercising, is to go slowly.

Tips for exercise

  • Always warm up before beginning your exercise routine, and cool down at the end.
  • If you plan to work out for 30 minutes, start with 10-minute sessions and work your way up.
  • Try water exercise, such as aqua aerobics. These are often easier on the joints and require less balance.
  • Work out in a safe environment; avoid slippery floors, poor lighting, throw rugs, and other potential dangers.
  • If you have difficulty maintaining your balance, exercise within reach of a grab bar or rail. If you have trouble standing or getting up, try exercising in bed rather than on the floor or an exercise mat.
  • If at any time you feel sick or you begin to hurt, STOP the activity.
  • Most important of all, select a hobby or activity you enjoy and stick with it. Some suggestions include:
    • Gardening
    • Walking
    • Swimming
    • Water aerobics
    • Yoga
    • Tai Chi
References

Alzheimer’s Association. Science and Progress: Prevention. www.alz.org/ Accessed 7/8/2011

National Institute on Aging. Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging. www.nia.nih.gov/ Accessed 7/8/2011

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 6/27/2011…#9582


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