Staying physically active

Be active! Your physical fitness helps your brain fitness.

Mario kayaking.

Your local Alzheimer Society can give you more activities and ideas to help you stay physically active. Check out what programs and services are available near you.

"My days are filled with hobbies and activities that I enjoy doing. I swim for about half an hour, three times a week, and attend Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes twice a week. Exercise helps to keep me physically fit and it gives my brain a good workout as well." - Mario (pictured above), from Burnaby, British Columbia. Mario lives with mixed dementia (vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease).

Physical activity can help you feel better, reduce stress and maintain health. It helps to prevent muscle weakness and health complications associated with inactivity.

Physical activity also promotes a normal day-and-night routine and may help to improve mood. The type of activity that works best for you will depend on your fitness level, present activity level and overall health.

Hear more from Mario about how to live well with dementia. Read Mario's story.

Exercise comes in many forms! For Mario, that means kayaking, swimming and mind-body practices such as Tai Chi, but there are plenty of other physical activities you can try and enjoy! Consider these tips to stay active (they can help people reduce their risk of getting dementia, too):

Start where you can and set reasonable goals

"When you're diagnosed, don't sit in the corner. Try to get out and get as active as you can. Let people know that you're still competent." - Bill, from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Bill lives with dementia.

If you feel you have little opportunity to exercise, start by adding a bit of physical activity into your daily routine. Choose a brisk walk to the store rather than driving the car, or take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator for one or two floors.

Think of it as "activity", not "exercise"

Choose activities and sports that you enjoy, and physical activity won't seem like a chore or task to tick off.

Once you get going, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigourous physical activity per week

Moderate activities could be walking a dog or going for a bicycle ride, while vigorous activities include swimming or going for a run. If you have reduced mobility, try activities that can help you maintain your balance and prevent falls, such as gentle yoga or tai chi.

Consider aerobic activities

Aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming, hiking and dancing, can help maintain general fitness. Many experts recommend walking as one of the safest and most effective forms of aerobic exercise.

Plan out your physical activity with someone you know

That way, you are more likely to keep active while you also gain the brain-healthy benefits of social interaction.

To learn more about living well with dementia, you can download our Heads Up for Healthier Living brochure (print-friendly version), for people living with Alzheimer's disease and their families. Even if you have another type of dementia, the tips and strategies in this brochure can help you live well.

More useful links and resources

Being active. The Public Health Agency of Canada. This guide is designed to help Canadians improve their health, prevent disease and get the most out of life.

Dementia-Inclusive Choices for Exercise (DICE). For people living with dementia, family and friends. Resources to help increase knowledge and confidence regarding exercise.

DREAM. DREAM project team. Resources to help people living with dementia and family and friend care partners learn more about physical activity, healthy eating, and wellbeing.

Heads up for healthier living. Alzheimer Society of Canada. This downloadable brochure can help people living with Alzheimer's disease and their families make lifestyle choices to stay healthy and live well with dementia. The tips and strategies in this brochure are applicable to people living with other types of dementia as well.

Safe: Senior Adult Fitness Exercises. McGill University Health Centre. A series of free exercise videos created to improve the quality of life of older adults.