The Love To Move Programme: How British Gymnastics Is Helping Dementia Sufferers

The Love To Move Programme: How British Gymnastics Is Helping Dementia Sufferers

A recent report has revealed British Gymnastics Foundation’s chair-based gymnastics exercise programme for dementia sufferers, has been a great success so far. Research carried out by Age UK has confirmed the scheme was found to offer demonstrable benefits for those with mild to advanced forms of dementia. These included physical, emotional and cognitive aspects.

The Love to Move programme has the goal of getting older people moving and functioning better, with a view to improving the lives of those living with this life changing disease. Based on a similar programme developed by the Korean and Japanese Gymnastics Federations, the BGF has taken its core principles and adapted it for the British culture.

More than 150 people have been enjoying specially designed and unique ‘bilaterally asymmetrical exercises’ where the individual draws different patterns with the left-hand side of their body to the right-hand side. The exercises carried out over a long term period bring positive changes to posture, movement and memory as well as the social engagement of those taking part.

Providing Life-Changing Benefits

British Gymnastics Foundation Manager, Patrick Bonner, said: “This age and dementia friendly programme is astonishing people with its life-changing benefits. So many people involved are seeing their lives improving as a result of the programme and it is remarkable that people are regaining functions which were thought to be lost because of the Love to Move gymnastics based exercises.”

Recent assessments made by care home staff have revealed 10 out of 14 participants have noticed physical improvements. A total of 86% is now socialising with other residents and staff better. 13 out of 14 residents are reported to be happier and more settled. And amazingly 100 per cent of participants are now easier to connect with.

Several individuals are able to use their hands again to feed themselves, do crafts and play games. And to the delight of all involved, one participant, who began taking part in the sessions twice a week and who previously showed few signs of improvement, has now regained her independence. As a result, she’s been able to move back into her own home.

Many other people have been taken off hypertension medication, been lifted from depression and are now sleeping much better.

Positive Early Results

These are early findings of course, but it does seem as though much can be achieved through this ground-breaking project. All results in Asia have been positive with every aspect being state-funded, and now the scheme run by the BGF is set to become more widely available.

Vinal K Karania, Research Manager (Evaluation and Impact) at Age UK said: “For many of the older people participating, their external environment changed little and one can, therefore, be confident that much of the improvements observed will have been because of this programme.”

Programme ambassador, gymnast and two-time Olympian, Kristian Thomas, added: “It’s amazing to see what the Love to Move programme has achieved. Dementia affects so many people and to know that gymnastics is making their lives easier and improving their quality of life; it’s something I’m extremely happy to be a part of.”

Meanwhile, the Foundation has been striving to secure extra funding through a number of outlets including a crowdfunding campaign which you can now donate to. More staff will be trained in the next few months and a booklet containing some of the key exercises is available for people to download and try for themselves.

It’s more proof gymnastics is a sport also putting a great deal back into the community Why not visit www.britishgymnasticsfoundation.org/lovetomove for more information and to access the full report and Love to Move booklet.

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