Holistic Mind-Body Program Helps People With Dementia

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Aug 13, 2014

Mind-Body-Spirit News

A unique holistic program that incorporated cognitive exercises with mind-body activities has helped to improve quality of life for a small group of patients with dementia.

Program developers from Teesside University in Middlesbrough, England, created “Happy Antics” to determine the feasibility and acceptance of a holistic exercise program among people with dementia. Holistic exercise is defined as the combination of physical exercise with a wellness approach that includes physical, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental and spiritual dimensions.

Lead study author Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo, PhD, a researcher from Teesside University, said to IDEA Fitness Journal, “I wanted to design a holistic exercise program that other people can use, such as residents of care homes who may not have dementia. Feasibility and acceptance may encourage expansion of the program.”

The Happy Antics program included cognitive and conventional exercises as well as tai chi, yoga, meditation, qigong, dance and mindfulness. “The idea was to make exercise interesting, stimulating and motivating for people with dementia,” said Khoo. Since balance is a safety concern with this population, Khoo included elements of tai chi, along with cognitive exercises and a short meditation, to make participation possible.

Fifteen people, including eight with early to middle-stage dementia, attended a 45-minute session once weekly for 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks, investigators interviewed subjects regarding their exercise experience. Study authors concluded that participants accepted holistic exercise, found it feasible, and appeared to benefit from it both psychologically and physically.

“My personal observation is that people with dementia seemed to enjoy the dance movement-based exercises more,” said Khoo. “Another interesting observation is the acceptance of meditation among those with dementia, since these people normally would not be able to concentrate for this amount of time.”

She concluded, “It is possible to do mind-body work with people with dementia. The key is deliverance, topped up with loving intentions. . . . The value of mind-body activities is that they connect the physical with the mental-emotional aspects in us—head, heart and hand. We are all unique souls with physical bodies. But we become complete when we do something with our heads, hearts and hands connected. This is achievable with mind-body activities.”

The study was published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2014.02.008).

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 11, Issue 9

© 2014 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author base...


Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Breathe to Lose Weight?

When a person loses weight, have you ever wondered where it goes? Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Australia have put toge...

Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Crous-Bou, M., et al. 2014. Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: Population based cohort study. British Med...

Does Exercise Order Really Matter in Resistance Training?

Research on resistance training design finds that the chief variables include intensity, volume, recovery between sets and exercises, workout frequency, equipment and speed of movement (Simão et al....

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

The Mythology of Modern-Day Dieting

Whether it was Rita Mae Brown or Albert Einstein who first said it, the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again an...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Wake Up Your Glutes!

It’s a sad fact of modern life that the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body, often becomes inhibited and “turns off.” Ironically, this inhibition can be the culprit behin...

Anaerobic Training: Program Design

Most personal trainers design anaerobic workouts for their clients—it is an innovative strategy that helps many people reach their goals. Competitive athletes have been training anaerobically fo...

Meditation Can Stimulate Ideas

Next time you need to generate more ideas to solve a particular problem, try an “open monitoring” style of meditation, similar t...