Love to Move: A dementia friendly gymnastics programme by the British Gymnastics Foundation

#Ideas & Stories
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Love to Move is a gymnastics exercise programme developed by the British Gymnastics Foundation (BGF) for the elderly, in particular those with dementia. The programme is chair-based to ensure it is accessible to the majority of older people and is thoughtfully designed to improve wellbeing in mind and body.

The programme has been tried out in several UK care homes as a result of research from other countries who run similar programmes. Research found the following benefits for participants:

  • boosts cognitive function
  • significantly improves walking speed and balance
  • reduces depression in participants
  • improves the ability to undertake day-to-day activities

The Love to Move story

Back in 2014 the BGF began working with experts in Japan, a country where dementia friendly gymnastics programmes for the elderly are commonplace. Japanese programmes have been so successful that they are now completely state funded, taking place in every care home across the country.

The BGF began to carry out Love to Move programmes in several care homes and community settings across the UK. The programme has had a life-changing impact on participants, I look at some of the remarkable benefits it has brought later on in this post.

The Love to Move programme has developed and evolved thanks to lead programme coach, Kim Hall. She has a lot of experience in adapting gymnastics for disabled people and has personal experience of family members living with the pain of dementia. Kim has also worked as a coach, a physiotherapist and has been trained in dance for those living with dementia. This gives her understanding and insight into how dementia affects the everyday lives of people and families, and is a large reason why the Love to Move programme has been so effective.

Find out more about the Love to Move programme on the BGF website

Remarkable benefits for participants

The Love to Move programme has had remarkable benefits and life-changing outcomes for participants. The programme has helped some participants to use their hands again so they can feed themselves and do activities. It has encouraged social interaction to the point where some participants that were previously very isolated are now socialising feely with friends and family.

The Love to Move programme has a demonstrable benefit in the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects of older people and those older people having mild to advanced forms of dementia appear to benefit the most.
Research conducted by Age UK, June 2016

Perhaps the biggest success story is an elderly lady who began taking part in the programme twice a week and as a result has regained her independence and since moved back home.

Video (3:27) - BGF Love to Move in action

Love to Move exercise booklet

The BGF have created an exercise booklet that  exercise booklet for care homes and those caring for loved ones at home. The booklet contains some of the key exercises from the programme as well as more information about the Love to Move programme. Download it now and discover the benefits in your care setting: Download the booklet.

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