Some mornings, you would think mom is preparing for a marathon. She walks at a very brisk pace that is practically a jog for someone her age. Her morning walk is something she does not forget and very much looks forward to every day.
She used to walk leisurely on many days, but when her caregiver left and it was just her and me, I started her walking at a good pace. I was proud that she could walk a mile in 30 minutes – we actually started out only walking half a mile. Soon, she could do a full mile!
Now, after six weeks of this daily regimen, she walks at an average speed of 3 mph and this morning broke her own record going 1.95 miles in 35 minutes. There is a part of me that wants her to slow down, but in my own exercise regimen, the “feel good” factor is easy to be addicted to. So, why should it be different for her?
Could there be a correlation between some of her “improvement” and the qualitative and quantitative increase in her daily physical activity? Maybe. No, she still does not remember what she ate for breakfast or how to cook an egg, but she holds her head up high and lives vicariously through our lives. She told me the other day how she enjoys being a babysitter although she has never changed a diaper or fed our little guy. It’s okay – as long as she want to be a part, she can.
If I had sat down and printed out the research on dementia and were to try something, I would have chosen to increase mom’s activity level. Good thing that is the way it turned out. According to exercise sites and medical sites, regular exercise helps with:
- reducing stress
- improving sleep
- decreasing feelings of depression and anxiety
It is no wonder then that mom shows up with her walking shoes on shortly after breakfast ready to hit the road.
Here is a link to an interesting article regarding a possible link between exercise as a therapeutic option: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258000/