Skip to content

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Select An Article

Alzheimer's Disease and Exercise

Font Size

Exercise is good for everyone, and it’s especially important for people with Alzheimer’s disease. It won’t cure the condition, but it can help ease some of its symptoms.

Exercise helps people sleep better and feel more alert during the day, so it can promote a normal day-and-night routine for people with Alzheimer’s. It also can improve mood. Repetitive exercises such as walking, indoor bicycling, and even tasks such as folding laundry may lower anxiety in people with the disease because they don't have to make decisions or remember what to do next. They also can feel good knowing that they’ve accomplished something when they’re finished.

Recommended Related to Alzheimer's

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: the Basics

Alzheimer's is a disease that robs people of their memory. At first, people have a hard time remembering recent events, though they might easily recall things that happened years ago. As time goes on, other symptoms can appear, including: Trouble focusing A hard time doing ordinary activities Feeling confused or frustrated, especially at night Dramatic mood swings -- outbursts of anger, anxiety, and depression Feeling disoriented and getting lost easily Physical problems, such...

Read the Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: the Basics article > >

The type of exercise that works best for someone with Alzheimer’s depends on their symptoms, fitness level, and overall health. Check with your loved one’s doctor before she starts any exercise program. The doctor may have advice on:

  • The types of exercise that are best for her, and ones to avoid
  • How hard she should be working out
  • How long her bouts of exercise should be
  • Other health professionals, such as a physical therapist, who can create a fitness program

Exercise Tips for People With Alzheimer’s

  • Start slowly. Once your loved one’s doctor gives the OK for her to exercise, she can start with 10-minute sessions and work her way up.
  • Make sure she warms up before exercise and cools down after.
  • Check her workout space for any hazards, such as slippery floors, low lighting, throw rugs, and cords.
  • If your loved one has a hard time keeping her balance, have her exercise within reach of a grab bar or rail. Other options are to exercise on the bed rather than on the floor or an exercise mat.
  • If she starts to feel sick or begins to hurt, stop the activity.
  • Most of all, help her choose a hobby or activity she enjoys so she’ll stick with it. Some suggestions include gardening, walking, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, and tai chi.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 28, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression