Alzheimer's Disease and Exercise

Medically Reviewed by Christopher Melinosky, MD on April 05, 2023
2 min read

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.

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 they start any exercise program. The doctor may have advice on:

  • The types of exercise that are best for them, and ones to avoid
  • How hard they should be working out
  • How long their bouts of exercise should be
  • Other health professionals, such as a physical therapist, who can create a fitness program
  • Start slowly. Once your loved one’s doctor gives the OK for them to exercise, they can start with 10-minute sessions and work their way up.
  • Make sure they warm up before exercise and cools down after.
  • Check their workout space for any hazards, such as slippery floors, low lighting, throw rugs, and cords.
  • If your loved one has a hard time keeping their balance, have them 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 they start to feel sick or begins to hurt, stop the activity.
  • Most of all, help them choose a hobby or activity they enjoy so they’ll stick with it. Some suggestions include gardening, walking, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, and tai chi.