Meaningful Exercise

10 Jun, 2021

Exercise and meaningful activities are important whether you are 25 or 85 years old.

However, for those living with complex care needs, which may include behaviours that may be challenging, dementia or/and mental health. Meaningful and person-centred exercise and activities are essential as they can help to slow the decline.


Meaningful activities

We have previously explored some person-centred and meaningful activities in our article ‘Why are activities so important for those with Dementia and Complex Care needs?’.

Meaningful exercise is vital for the elderly

Armchair exercise

We have been working in partnership with Sheffield City Trust, Community Health & Wellbeing Coordinator James Ball introduced our home Loxley Court to ‘The Card Game’ – a fun way to exercise and stay healthy.

Lady taking part in meaningful exercise

Our ladies and gentlemen have been trialling the game for the past few weeks, and it has been a big hit! They have really enjoyed the fun aspect of the exercises, and the memory aspect helps them concentrate and focus on the task.

How it works

The game consists of a pack of playing cards and an instruction leaflet explaining that each suit represents an exercise, for instance:

2 of Hearts = Sit to Stand, however many times it says on the card, in this case twice.

The card game instructions

Altogether there are four exercises, but these can be changed to any exercise to suit the abilities and needs of the participants. So, if the majority cannot stand, you can make all four exercises seated, for instance, sitting star jumps, flutter kicks, touch your knees and arm & leg raises.

James Ball from Sheffield City Trust

James Ball from Sheffield City Trust said, “I liked how the Loxley Court activities team adapted the game, so it helped with short-term memory. This seems to work especially well for people living with dementia.  It’s great that a game that we developed to help strengthen muscles to prevent falls and increase cardiovascular fitness has been adapted to benefit the mind too.”

Low impact fitness class chair aerobics

Low impact fitness class – beginners

Low impact fitness class – intermediate

Low impact fitness class – advance

Joe Wicks – New Low impact 15-minute workout for seniors

Getting out and about

Connecting with nature has been proven to improve our mental health, so getting out for a walk or working in the garden are great ways to enhance our well-being. We soak up the sunshine vitamin (D), see and hear new things which stimulate our mind, lifts our mood and helps us work up an appetite.

Connecting with nature

Accessing nature doesn’t mean you have to organise a long trip somewhere. You can involve your loved one in your daily routine, for instance walking to the shops, posting a letter or perhaps collecting the children from school. If they are less mobile, a walk around the park in a wheelchair to feed the birds or ducks or watching the children play will be stimulating and give them something to talk about later.

If the weather is too cold to go out, you could sit by an open window together with a blanket and watch the sun setting or birds in the garden or plan your planting for the next season. These small things can lift your loved one’s mood and give them the opportunity for fresh air.

Bird watching

Working in the garden doesn’t mean hours of back-breaking digging or kneeling. There are many projects in the garden that you and your loved one can work on together. You can pot plants, paint plant signs, make bird seeds or fat balls; if your loved one is a keen gardener, you could build a raised flower bed so your loved one can tend to those plants.

Working in the garden

For more ideas, check out our article about Gardening and Mental Health, where we look at different kinds of gardens and build them.