If a senior you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar type of dementia, you may worry about your risk for developing the condition. Unfortunately, the cause of Alzheimer’s continues to elude researchers, as do potential genetic links. But there are steps experts believe you can take to reduce your risk for the disease. One is regular exercise.

Physical Fitness and Brain Health

Research surrounding the connection between brain health and physical activity has increased in recent years. Studies continue to explore the idea that engaging in fitness activities seems to protect cognitive function longer. A study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UW SMPH), for example, suggests that lifestyle can impact your risk for Alzheimer’s.

Another study examined the amount of exercise it takes to make a difference. Older adults who participated in this study engaged in what is considered modest exercise, walking at a moderate pace on a treadmill for 30 minutes five times a week. A moderate pace is considered to be a speed that raises the heart rate while still allowing the participant to carry on a conversation.

So, what types of exercise should older adults discuss with their primary care physician? We have some ideas you might find useful.

Senior-Friendly Forms of Fitness

Some types of exercise are kinder on older joints than others. A few senior-friendly exercises to try are Tai Chi, chair yoga, swimming, walking, cycling, and Pilates. These are all good for managing pain associated with osteoarthritis, too.

Another idea is to explore the SilverSneakers program. If your health insurance plan is a participating organization, you might be entitled to a complimentary membership. Their classes take place at fitness centers across the country every day.

If you’d like a more directed fitness program but don’t want to join a gym, a few options include:

  • Growing Stronger: This illustrated guide was developed by Tufts University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s designed to make it easier for seniors to get started with an exercise program and stay motivated. You can download it at no cost.
  • Go4Life: The National Institute on Aging is home to a variety of fitness resources through a program called Go4Life. Here you’ll find everything from tools for tracking your fitness activities to finding the right workout clothes.

The bottom line is following your doctor’s advice and getting more exercise may do more than give you a healthier heart. It might just help to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease.

Wellness Activities at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan and Indiana, residents have a variety of fitness activities to participate in every day. Popular ones include morning exercise with friends, Wii bowling, walking clubs, and chair yoga. Contact us at your convenience to learn how our communities make fitness fun!