Researchers at Teesside University have discovered that a combination of cognitive activities, yoga, meditation, and physical exercise can improve the quality of life for individuals battling dementia. This includes mixing elements of yoga, tai chi, qigong, and meditation, along with physical and cognitive exercises, which lessened depression and enhanced physical and mental abilities.
Lead investigator, Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo, M.Sc., Ph.D., explained, “When the wellness approach is applied to exercise, holistic exercise strives to encourage individuals not only to take part in the physical activities, but also to become aware of their own physical and psychological states, and to perform exercise that is purposeful and meaningful to them.”
For the study, fifteen participants ranging from 52 to 86 years old participated in the “Happy Antics” program, “a holistic exercise plan that integrates physical movements with activities designed to take the emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual health of patients into consideration.” Of the participants, eight were dementia patients, five were caregivers, and two were volunteers.
The researchers found that holistic mind-and-body approach proved to be both enjoyable and helpful for patients suffering from dementia. Not only did participants enjoy the sessions, they also showed improvement in memory recall when knowing what moves went with the music. Caregivers also reported having less pain after the session. “This suggests that participating in holistic exercise may offer some relief in burden for caregivers as they face many challenges in providing care for patients with dementia, including physical and psychological distress,” added Khoo.