Dementia is a chronic disorder of cognitive function caused by brain disease or injury. Occurring most commonly in individuals over the age of 60, dementia causes the deterioration of memory, concentration and judgement.
Current figures estimate that around 800,000 individuals in the UK are suffering from dementia, and whilst as yet there is no known cure, research into ways to slow progression has been plentiful and in some cases, successful.
Recent research carried out by the Mayo Clinic has revealed that exercise that gets your circulation going can help to slow cognitive decline as well as reducing the risk of dementia. But how?
As well as improving circulation and strengthening the heart, exercise has been found to boost the size of a certain area of the brain that is central to our overall ability to form new memories. This area of the brain is known as the hippocampus, which begins to shrink in individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Why ping pong?
So of all the sports, why has ping pong been singled out as the activity of choice in the fight against dementia?
Aside from the enjoyment factor, table tennis is a fantastic form of aerobic exercise that requires low-to-medium impact physical engagement. In addition, it also requires the brain to be constantly engaged – calculating the opponents next move, at the same time as keeping a watchful eye on the ball which requires spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination and peripheral vision.
Ping pong presents a very simple yet enjoyable way to maintain and improve body and mind. However with that said, being diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s is life changing for everyone involved. Whether you yourself have been diagnosed, or you are a friend or family member who is struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis of a loved one – some additional emotional support could help.
Dementia counselling offers individuals the chance to voice their inner most thoughts in a neutral and confidential environment – allowing you the time and space to explore and understand your feelings.
For further information about dementia, and to find out how a counsellor may be able to help you, please visit our Dementia Counselling fact-sheet.
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