Exercise has many physical and cognitive benefits. Physical activity can improve sleep, mood and balance, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Exercise also may reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Even though the pandemic means many of us are spending more time at home, we can stay active in quarantine. Here are some ways to get moving, adapted from The National Institute on Aging and The Alzheimer’s Society.
Remember to drink plenty of water before and after you exercise and stop any activity if you feel pain. If you are unsure about any exercise or activity, check with your doctor!
Walking: Walking is great for all fitness levels, and you can vary the length and speed of your walk to make the activity more or less strenuous. There are great walking trails in Indianapolis, or you can walk around your own neighborhood. Be sure to keep at least six feet apart from others!
Gardening: Gardening is a great way to stay active around your home. Try activities such as planting herbs or vegetables, weeding, raking leaves, or mowing the grass. A kitchen window garden also can be an option in cooler months.
At-Home Sports: Get active and have fun by creating your own sports inside your house. Ideas include tossing a beach ball, hitting a balloon, or using plastic bottles or cans for bowling.
Dancing: Dancing is another way to get active and have fun! Play your favorite upbeat song and start moving! Music may also reduce agitation for people with Alzheimer’s. You can dance sitting or standing, alone or with someone else. You also do not actually have to be “good” at dancing; the important thing is to get moving and have fun!
Create-Your-Own Weights: Strength training does not have to involve joining a gym or buying fancy workout equipment. You can create your own weights using soup cans or water bottles. Make sure you are using proper form to avoid injury!
Chair Exercises: If you are looking for a gentle, low-impact way to exercise, try seated exercises. Examples include marching, arm circles, and heel raises. Check out this chair exercises poster from the Alzheimer’s Society for more information or this standing chair exercise routine from the National Institute on Aging.
If you prefer a more structured at-home workout or want more ideas, check out these additional free resources from the National Institute on Aging: exercise and activity guide and Go4Life exercise videos.
Katherine Starr, an AmeriCorps VISTA at CICOA, brings her passion and skill to the Meals & More Nutrition and Wellness project this year. Throughout college, Katherine volunteered 60 hours a semester at a dementia care facility, and she is now excited to help people with dementia and their caregivers live well within their own communities. Katherine received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and completed a dementia care certification through Presbyterian Senior Care Network and California University of Pennsylvania.