A recent study found that holistic exercise can improve both physical and psychological wellbeing in dementia patients suffering from depression and declining physical and psychological wellbeing.
Dementia is a complex and debilitating condition, but holistic exercise programs like the Happy Antics program are providing patients with some relief, joy, and lasting positive effects. Researchers at the Teesside University in the U.K. found that the program, which combines cognitive activities and elements of yoga, tai chi, qigong, and meditation with routine physical exercise, not only provided participants with enjoyment and empowerment, but also contributed to improvements in their memory recall. The participants of the study, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, included eight dementia patients, five caregivers, and two volunteers, for a total of 15 participants in the age range of 52 to 86. In observing the sixth session, Dr. Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo of the Health and Social Care Institute at Teesside University said that “people with dementia could not remember what had occurred during previous sessions, [while] six people with dementia who participated in the holistic exercise sessions could anticipate the physical movements associated with specific music, and three people with dementia were able to remember the sequence of the physical movements.” According to Dr. Khoo, “this shows potential in maintained procedural memory among people with dementia who attended the holistic exercise sessions.” Strengths of the program included its ability stimulate and engage people with dementia in exercise, provide a social learning environment, and offer potential psychological benefits.
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