A new weekly exercise class aimed at helping people with dementia to stay fit and active is being launched by researchers at the University of Nottingham.
The class, which is free for an introductory period, is open to people with all types and stages of dementia and will offer the opportunity to exercise safely under the supervision of physiotherapists and fitness instructors experienced in working with people with dementia.
The sessions, starting on Wednesday August 30 from 10am to 11am, will be held at the university’s new £40m David Ross Sports Village, which opened in May this year and features state of the art facilities including dance and spin studios, an all-glass squash court, tennis courts and gym.
Carers and supporters can choose whether to take part in the class or use the time to take a break – the Sports Villages’ Clubhouse Café offers drinks and snacks for those people who prefer not to leave the building.
The classes have been organised by lecturer Dr Victoria Hood-Moore in the university’s School of Health Sciences and post-graduate research student Victoria Booth in the university’s School of Medicine.
Victoria Booth said: “When people have dementia there is obviously a strong focus on their illness and the importance of staying physically fit and active can often be overlooked. For some people, their cognitive impairment could be a barrier to accessing exercise classes or the gym.
“However, exercise offers real benefits to people with dementia and can improve their quality of life – it can help to protect against physical ill-health related to a sedentary life style, as well as minimising the incidence of falls, which is one of the risk factors associated with dementia.
“With that in mind, these classes have been developed to specifically cater for people with dementia, whatever their level of cognitive impairment or fitness level.”
The class will help to improve strength, balance and fitness and will be tailored for individuals’ abilities – those who already have a good level of fitness will receive more advance exercises, while others can gradually build up the intensity.
The classes will start with a warm up and will include exercises with weights and resistance bands and cardio, followed by a cool down period at the end. Volunteers will assist the class leader to help people who may need more support in the class.
The class is being supported by the University of Nottingham as part of its role as a Dementia-Friendly University – the first institution to be recognised with the title by the Alzheimer’s Society in May 2016.
The classes are a result of Victoria Booth’s PhD study, which looked at the issue of falls in people with dementia, and comes as researchers at the University’s School of Medicine and Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust are studying to development and evaluation of a new therapeutic approach in maintaining activity, independence and balance among people living with the early stages of dementia.
The PrAISED (Promoting Activity Independence and Stability in Early Dementia) trial, which started in 2016, is funded with a £2.8 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and will develop and evaluate a new therapeutic approach. The study is being carried out in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Nottingham Citycare Partnership and Bangor University.
Maureen Godfrey, a University of Nottingham alumna from Gedling, Nottingham, is a patient representative on the trial and has experience of caring for someone with dementia. She acted as carer for her frail elderly parents for 20 years which became a heavy commitment after her father died, leaving her mother who had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
She said: “I watched a, once very active, woman become more and more fearful of falling and reluctant to leave her chair. Now 70, and having had a small stroke, I am very well aware how important retaining strength and balance is to maintain an active quality of life both for the person with dementia and their carer.”
The free dementia-friendly exercise classes will run at the University from Wednesday August 30 until December 20 from 10am to 11am. Free parking is available at the David Ross Sports Village on University Park Campus.
Registration for the classes is not required, however, people interested in participating can call, text or email before attending for the first time to enable class leaders to ensure individuals’ needs are catered for and to answer any questions.
More information about the class is available from Vicky on 07976 805411 or by email at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org or Victoria.email@example.com
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