Fittness and Dementia


Registered User
Mar 24, 2006
Co Durham
Dear All

Today my wife Janice and I went to an event in Newcastle upon Tyne, which was run by a Government Agency with the view of setting up a fitness scheme for people with mental illness.

After listening to the comments for some time, we decided to explain a few facts to the people who thought they knew everything about mental illness, which now includes dementia, and there reaction was hard to believe.

As far as they were concerned it was a good idea to get people with the illness to go to things such as the gym, so that they could remain fit for as longs as possible, which in principal is a good idea, until you really look into a person with dementia, and I speak from experience.

Some time ago I was told by my GP that it would be good if I could loose a few pounds in weight, and we then decided that I should be refered to our local gym.

The first day was for the induction, which went well until I came to the tread mill, and after about 4 minutes, I fell off the back, which caused a few laughs. This happened again, so I moved onto the next item, as the instructor did not see the funny side and thought that I was fooling around.(This was after the induction, when he had been told that I had Lewy Body Dementia).The problem being that those of us with the illness know, that trying to remember things over a certain period can be very hard, especially while trying to concentrate on doing a task.

The next time I went to the gym, I was left to my own devises, and things went from bad to worse, as I had forgotten all that I had been told on my first visit, and there was no one willing to go through the induction again, or willing to write it down so that I could follow it.

I paid another two visits and then I realised that my life at the gym was a waste of time and money, as well as the fact that as a person with dementia, I was a complete liability in a gym.

I explained this today, and then I was asked why I had forgotten everything that I had been told at the induction, so I said that was because I had dementia, and the instructor had been informed about this in the first place, but there was no provision for the training course to be written out on a card so that it could be followed at a later date.

I do wonder how many people remember what they did at an induction like that, when you consider that you use a peice of equipment for so long, at a certain speed, and then move onto something else doing the same thing, while moving the seats to fit you as you go.

To me it was a nightmare that I chose to walk away from and forget. But to these officials it seemed to be something else, as if it was all my fault that I had forgotten everything, or done it on purpose.

Surely at an induction, the course should be printed on a card
which could be carried around and followed by everyone, because like it or not, there are thousands of us with memory problems.

I live in hope, I think going for a walk is much easier.

Best Wishes

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Registered User
Jul 31, 2007
Dear Ken,

When Peter was at home I did buy him equipment to keep him fit.

The Doctor said it would be good for him as he use to be so active.

Well I did try each day and had to go through it so many times as Peter could not remember what to do. It caused Peter to get so upset I just got rid of the equipment and then Peter was happy.

Take care

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
After listening to the comments for some time, we decided to explain a few facts to the people who thought they knew everything about mental illness, which now includes dementia, and there reaction was hard to believe.

Just love your style, Ken! (And Janice's!!!) :)

I know I've posted before that I despaired with 'health professionals' when mum was in hospital - 'Just press the orange button if you need anything' they'd say to her .... and I had to point out - 'Do you think she will remember where it is or what it's for?':mad:

I love your idea about walking ....surely getting some exercise out in the fresh air would be good both physically as well as emotionally for those who are able? Guided 'rambles' might be a far more economic way of providing 'fitness' opportunities - as well as a lot more pleasure than the worry of 'managing' equipment or ever having the pressure of remembering instructions? Great idea, going on my list if that's OK ...:)

Love, Karen, x


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
So many things are touted these days - 5 fruit and veg, gyms, sudoku, etc - as a means of helping fight dementia [AS do it].

Trouble is, so do child health people, cancer people, probably even those trying to ward off green monkey disease.

Yes, these things are good general health tips [the exception being gym which is mostly a social activity and which turns out women that look like men and men that look like apes] but the absence of true ideas on how one might ward off - well, any disease - is shown by the mass marketing of a fixed set of plans.

I was speaking to someone yesterday and she said "but they have got the solution to dementia now - I have read about it".


Yes, walking is great and good and sensible as exercise, and Janh and I were able to keep that going a long time - even at the assessment centre.

Keep educating them, Ken! Your words should be taken with more weight than ours.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Ken

Well done to you and Janice for trying to educate. I just hope at least some of them took it on board.

I also took out gym membership for John and me, but had to give it up, it was just making John more stressed.

We continued walking right up until his infection, and I'm sure that's why he is continuing to fight off infections.

As a matter of interest, our U3A group, which already had hill-walking and rambling groups, has recently started an 'ambling' group, for those who are less fit. There are at least two members with dementia. It gives them exercise and social contact, and partners/carers can go too. If not, the others make sure they are OK. Seems like a good idea to me.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Ken

When Dhiren broke his arm only a few months following diagnosis, he was unable to follow the sequence of exercises the physiotherapist wanted him to do.

And later on, to try to maintain fitness, I exercised with him every day at home, following a plan from a weight control company. The exercises were videos on the computer and excellent, but he still had do do them together with me, he wouldn`t have been able to follow them.

And then we stopped because they made him dizzy and a couple of times he lost his balance.

I`m glad to were there to speak out for us Ken. Thank you.

Love xx


Registered User
Jan 31, 2008
Soldiers Grove
replying about gym experience

Know that going to the gym was a big step for anyone, even myself. As I have a family member with dementia and would not get her to go or allow her to go. As I would be concerned about her hurting herself or not remembering why she was there. At the place my mom is at, they get them out to exercise some, and be involved with other activities. But right now, my mom is having trouble with her sleeping and medications. So hopefully, you have made some time to go for walks as you mentioned. As that is healthy too, but can not always do so, in the bad inclement weather (winter). Hope you are doing better now with this and have a wonderful weekend.


Registered User
Jul 20, 2008
Hello Ken

I am not surprised that you had problems remembering what you were told during induction.

I don't have a dementia and when I had my induction he went that fast that I couldn't take it in. On my first visit, after induction, I couldn't remember a thing and went to ask an instructor who very begrudgingly showed me one piece of equipment. After that I was reluctant to ask again about another piece of equipment but I did and he was not very forthcoming at all. I then tried asking someone else but, for some unknown reason they were all begrudging in offering help and advice so I gave it up and concentrated on things that I already knew like cycling, walking and canoeing, skipping :)D).
My husband, who has a dementia, is very physically fit but would have no idea how to take in anything from an induction, let alone remember it:confused:

I, personally, do feel that the gym could benefit some people with dementias but they would need a carer assisting them. If the gym wants to help then they should have adequate staff and train them with regard to the possible needs of service users with any of the dementias.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting you were at;)



Registered User
Jan 29, 2008
Ashford, Kent
Nothing ceases to amaze me.

Dad's CPN called me a few weeks ago to sayshe had been trying to get Dad, but there was no answer.

Why were you calling him I asked.. err.. to make an appointment to see him she said.

Uhm... he has Dementia.. what on earth makes you think he will remember speaking to you!




Volunteer Host
Nov 6, 2008
My husbands Great Grandsons, twins, are training to be personal trainers, I told one of them (the most sensible) that people like his grand pops also need fitness help, I hope he takes it on board.. Dementia holds no fears for him, first his grandad and no his great grandad..
Maybe a step forward..

Linda Mc

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
Nr Mold
I too went through this with Vic when he was first diagnosed (it was me that needed to get fit not him!)Anyway we joined a gym and it was soon very clear it wasn't going to work for him as I had to keep stopping and setting his machine for him and of course it was rare we were ever on the next machines so I was getting my exercise dashing over to his all the time!

I had thought it would be fun to go there together and more of a social thing for him but not so. I did note that those referred to the gym by their GP for heart or blood pressure had help and encouragement all the time but apart from one really good member of staff Vic was virtually ignored!

So ended our membership and we joined the local walking group and they really looked after us made us so welcome and I was sorry when we had to give it up. However the walk leaders still keep in touch and ask us round for coffee and invite us to their Christmas lunch and always come and support the annual Memory Walk or fund raising we have.



Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
I am surprised that there is no form of assessment before clients are entered into a fitness course.
If there was I am sure that some one suffering with Dementia would be found unsuitable,depending on the severity of their condition.
When we applied for the provision of a stair lift,my wife wife was deemed unsuitable,by the OT.
Why?Because she would not remember what she was told and therefore was in danger of having an accident.
Similar situation to gym equipment?


Registered User
Mar 24, 2006
Co Durham
Hi Norman

There was no assessment at all, and even though the trainers were told that I had Dementia, they took no notice what so ever.

I was amazed at there lack of knowledge when it comes to memory problems, and even when we pointed this out to the Council, they did not give us a answer.

Perhaps if I had been involved in an accident on their premises they would have done something about it.



Registered User
Aug 18, 2006
Fit to drop.....

Well I am not at all surprised by your experiences. Despite all the hype I find gyms even the ones run by LA's some of the most unfriendly places on earth. How dare you enter if your stomach bulges, or your biceps do not ripple!
When my children were younger I took them to gym club on the advice of their physiotherapist and our GP, but I was called aside and told because they had co-ordination problems. I was told they were taking up a disproportionate part of the instructors time, and they were a liability. I was told I could still use the centre but would need to sign and insurance indemnity form!
More hubby an I have tried fitness suites an we too found the induction close to hopeless. It must be a LOT worse when you have dementia and I admire you for trying!


Account Closed
Nov 23, 2007
Hello Ken

I have asked our SW/CPN about fitness/ exersise for Ron.
I have the plan, I just cannot get him to do it.
Today, N, our Crossroad's carer asked to see the plan. She is going to do it with Ron, she said it will do her good. Ron will take notice of her, but not me;)
So, starting next week, Ron is doing exersise, (if he likes it or not;))
I applaud you, keep fit Ken:D
I shall try to make sure Ron does.

Barb & Ron X

PS, pity the same cannot be said about me:rolleyes:


Registered User
Mar 24, 2006
Co Durham
Hi Barb and Ron,

I don't go to the gym any more as it causes too much stress, and I had to give up swimming as my co-ordination has gone to pot these days because when my arms move, my mouth opens and I end up swallowing half of the baths in one go. I think I should be a submarine because I start to sink?

These days I just walk as far as I can and enjoy the country side while I can. I don't like town centres anymore, but life goes on and we have to move with it and enjoy what we can.

Best Wishes


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