Being a personal trainer, maybe you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease. If not, it’s probable that several of your clients do and that they are impacted by the symptoms deeply. It may be time to ask around so that you can create a ripple effect outside of your regular personal training sessions. Spread the good news. There are ways to embrace our aging population exercising with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting the elderly. Currently there are medications available that may slow the progression of this debilitating disease; however, the cure for the underlying causes remains elusive. As our aging populations continue to increase in size – due in large part to improved medical care as well as positive lifestyle changes — the incidence of AD will likely increase as well.
Not a Solo Mission
Alzheimer’s disease affects more than the individual who has been diagnosed; this condition poses one of the greatest medical, social, and economic challenges for families and our country’s health care system.
Recent research has helped shed light on the etiology of neurodegenerative conditions; this, in turn, has created a wave of interest in increasing exercise to help stave off such age-related conditions.
Regular physical activity has been shown to increase the endurance of cells and tissues to deleterious oxidative stress; in addition, as many of us are already aware, exercise facilitates vascularization, energy metabolism, and neurotrophin synthesis. All of these processes work to ensure neurogenesis, memory improvement, and brain plasticity.
Getting Busy Early in Life
Why wait until “the golden years” to embark upon an exercise habit? We can encourage our population to begin purposeful movement programs as early as the fourth decade of life. Studies have shown that women between the ages of 40 and 60 who exercised regularly demonstrated a significant reduction in memory loss and cognitive decline.
In fact, engaging in physical activity for simply an hour a week is enough to dramatically slow the cognitive decline of patients residing in nursing homes, even those who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers, too, see the positive results of exercise participation. The benefit of increased mood and fitness level, coupled with a reduction in anxiety, can serve a caregiver well when dealing with a loved one living with a challenging cognitive disease.
Making Purple Powerful
The color purple has been designated as representing Alzheimer’s disease awareness. As employees of a gym or community fitness center, we are well positioned to promote such insight in a variety of ways. Wearing purple to work, and encouraging clients to dress in purple gym attire when training, is the easiest method of “spreading the word”. With a supervisor’s approval, consider decorating the fitness center’s check-in desk with purple banners or purple lettering on signage.
Perhaps your gym can host a “purple with a passion” event before the month comes to a close. Offer a free aerobics class to participants who are willing to come dressed in purple. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity. We have the power to help not only our fit, healthy clients. Alzheimer’s patients, as well as those with a family history of cognitive disorders, deserve just as much of our care, compassion, and education.