Study Shows Structured Exercise Can Improve Quality of Life for People with Alzheimer’s

  • Recently, some exciting news about improving the quality of life for those who already have Alzheimer's disease came to light in a story on Reuters Health titled, "Exercise calms agitation associated with dementia."


    While it's generally accepted that anything that's good for the heart is likely good for the brain, and therefore exercise may help stave off Alzheimer's, there hasn't been much information about what exercise could do for people who already have the disease. Also, since people in the later stages of AD often can't follow directions easily, it's often thought that exercise just isn't worth the effort needed to get them to follow along. The result of this thinking may be damaging to people with AD. A new study shows that their quality of life can be enhanced by exercise.

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    The Reuters article spotlights a pilot study that showed agitation and function improved in a group of elders with severe dementia. These folks exercised just 30 minutes, three times a week.


    A medical student at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, Edris Aman, conducted his own small study. He acknowledged that it took a lot of patience on the part of the exercise coordinator to get people with advanced AD to do the exercises. However, he found the results worth the effort.


    Aman worked with 50 people in two different nursing home environments. The residents did 15 minutes of aerobic exercise and 15 minutes of weights, three times a week.  Tests taken with the patients showed that patients were "far less agitated after completing the 3-week exercise program." The patients also were able to walk a longer distance than before the exercise.


    The study showed no improvement in depression, but Aman said that the study used a very "low dose" of exercise. He said emerging studies do show an improvement in depression.


    So, my friends, here's another study that exercise can help us in many ways. The news about this one is that people even in advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease can feel better and function better if they get some healthy exercise. Yes, it takes patience on the part of the person directing the exercise, but the results sound good.


    Anything that helps the quality of life of a person with Alzheimer's also helps the quality of life of a caregiver. So, everyone benefits. This is one "medicine" where there should be no negative side effects.


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Published On: May 13, 2009