The Mind/Body Connection: Exercise & Dementia

15 May

Dementia affects more people than just those suffering from severe health issues. My grandmother was an otherwise active individual. During her last few years became less active which subsequently affected her mobility as well as her memory. The mind and body may disconnect. My wonder is if exercise can be the bridge through which new connections can be made.

I’ve taken on a new client recently. We work together twice a week. His wife explained to me he has mild forms of memory loss. Retaining information has become a bit of a problem. The connection between the mind and body is there. He has the ability to co-ordinate opposite arm and leg movement while counting. His ability to recognize an exercise before I explain it has improved. I no longer have to demonstrate en exercise in order for him to know what to do. I encourage counting out loud. Why? He can verbalize the numbers and know exactly what repetition and how many to do. I find he’s much more accurate when he’s counting out loud vs. counting to himself.

The brain is a muscle. It has the capacity to learn an infinite amount of patterns. While I am no expert on dementia, I am learning so much. What I decided to do was keep the movement patterns within his capability and practice that every day we work together. I also make sure he counts out loud during every exercise. My goal is to teach my client new movement patterns through repetition and gradually adjust the program difficulty.

What affects the body affects the mind and vice versa. Exercise is important to keep the mind and body connection strong. What I’m learning is that exercise may be a key factor in keeping those connections strong for as long as possible.