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Exercise Ideas for the Early, Middle and Later Stages of Dementia

Keeping active and exercising is an excellent way to improve well-being and reduce health complications as you get older. It can help improve sleep, strength, flexibility, circulation and improve mood and self-esteem.

Recent studies have also found how frequent exercise can reduce challenging behaviours in older people with dementia. In most cases, regular exercise has been an effective way of managing behaviours like agitation, sundowning and disrupted sleep. 

The important thing is to try and find exercises that are enjoyable and safe for the individual’s ability. In this article we take a look at how you can encourage someone with dementia to exercise and our six great ideas to help get you started.

We also take a look at the different levels of dementia and how this might affect the type and amount of exercise.

Exercise Ideas ( Early, Moderate and Late Stage Dementia)

Whether someone has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, there are two main ways of breaking the condition down. This is either through a three of seven stage approach. Generally, most forms of dementia can be broken down into three key stages; mild (early stage), moderate (middle stage) and severe (late stage).

Each person’s health, personality, and cognitive abilities will vary, so it will take some experimenting to find the amount and type of exercise that works well for them. Below are a few simple, moderate and advanced exercises that you could consider trying with your loved one.



Walking is one of the simplest and best exercises for any older people. This can include walking round the house, garden, or outside for any amount of time. It’s great for both the body and mind, and by combining it with other social activities you can make it much more social.

Seated exercises

There are so many seated exercises that can help improve fitness, even something as simple as sitting unsupported for few minutes each day.  This will help to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles needed for posture, which can help with breathing.



Gardening is not only a great form of exercise but can also be very sociable and effective in reducing stress. Simple task such a brushing, raking and planting can be great ways to exercise and gives a sense of accomplishment.

Stretches and/or strength exercises

Simple stretches and even some light yoga are great way of exercising and can greatly benefit the mobility of older people – Try these simple, easy sitting stretch exercises.



Dancing not only doesn’t feel like exercise, but can be a great way of enjoying socialising. It can also be enjoyed with music, which has been found to help with symptoms of dementia. Look for social events at senior centers that include group dancing. 

Water exercise 

This greatly depends on what level of dementia the person is living with, but it can be a great, low impact form of exercise. Make sure you research any local classes at public pools, schools and gyms, or if possible, go with your love one for a nice dip. 


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