While regular exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, it is especially important for individuals living with Parkinson’s. For people diagnosed with Parkinson’s, regular exercise can provide special benefits such as preventing or reducing their symptoms and improving their balance, coordination, and mobility.
Learn how regular exercise or physical therapy can improve your mental health and wellbeing along with what kinds of exercises are best for people with Parkinson’s.
How does physical exercise benefit Parkinson’s?
The universal benefits of exercise on the mind and body are well documented. Maintaining a regular exercise routine can elevate your physical health, reduce stress, improve your sleep patterns and help ward off preventable diseases such as heart disease and type II diabetes.
But individuals with Parkinson’s can receive special benefits from maintaining a regular exercise routine including:
Preventing or slow progression: Studies such as the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project have linked exercises with preventing Parkinson’s and slowing its progression. Research suggests that regular exercise may help brain cells stay healthy while reducing their susceptibility to damage.
Managing symptoms: Numerous studies have shown that exercise is an effective therapy for managing a variety of Parkinson’s symptoms while improving overall quality of life. Certain symptoms, like problems with balance or coordination, are particularly helped through exercise.
Increase socialisation: Living with Parkinson’s can at times feel lonely. Making exercise a social activity can improve socialisation, combat anxiety or depression, reduce stress, and help ease symptoms.
How to develop a Parkinson’s exercise routine
If you have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, The Parkinson’s Foundation suggests beginning an exercise routine as soon as possible. However, every person with Parkinson’s experiences their condition differently and will have different limitations. It’s important to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and can perform safely.
Before developing a Parkinson’s exercise plan, it is beneficial to meet with a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help you create an exercise plan that is tailored to your age, physical condition, overall resources, and energy levels.
For safety, you will also want to consult with your GP before beginning any new exercise routine.
Parkinson’s exercises at home
You do not need a gym membership or to leave your home to begin exercising. You can enjoy all the benefits of a regular exercise routine right in your own home through exercises such as:
Balance and posture exercises
Home workout videos
Walking in place
What are the best exercises for Parkinson’s disease?
Here are some of the best exercises for people with Parkinson’s disease. Make sure you challenge yourself by trying new activities and exercises that are within your capabilities.
Brisk Walking or Jogging
Walking is the perfect low-impact exercise for people with Parkinson’s. If you would like to increase the intensity of your walk, try incorporating some hills or stairs.
You do not even have to leave your home to begin walking or jogging. Walking or jogging in place has many of the same benefits as walking outdoors or on a treadmill and it allows you to keep a chair or table nearby for support.
Yoga can help you improve your core strength, balance, and flexibility. Posture-based yoga exercises can also help strengthen your postural muscles and lead to better balance while walking. Yoga is also a great stress reliever that may help reduce anxiety or depression.
Pilates is suitable for all ages and fitness levels as it is a gentle and low-impact form of exercise. Similar to yoga, pilates can help strengthen your muscles while improving balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Improving your strength has vast benefits for people with Parkinson’s. As the postural muscles get weaker due to Parkinson’s, it becomes more difficult for a person to maintain their balance which can lead to dangerous slips and falls.
Lifting light weights can help improve your strength, flexibility, and coordination. Start with a low weight and increase it gradually when you feel it is safe to do so.
Dancing to your favourite music has great cardiovascular benefits and can help improve your balance and coordination. Make sure the area you are dancing in is free of obstructions to ensure your safety.
Swimming and Aqua aerobics
Exercising in water is low-impact and involves very little risk of injury. Your local pool or aquatic centre may have group exercise classes tailored to older adults or people with mobility issues. As an added benefit, studies have shown that you are more likely to maintain your commitment to an exercise routine that has a social element.
The benefits of regular stretching for individuals with Parkinson’s can not be overstated. Stretching helps maintain range of movement and flexibility in both the joints and muscles. This is particularly important for people with Parkinson’s as tight muscles and joints are common symptoms.
Tips for Getting Started
Starting a new exercise routine is challenging for anyone. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
The best exercise for Parkinson’s is one that you can perform safely and enjoy doing. You are much more likely to stick to your new exercise regime if you find the activity enjoyable.
Try and exercise at the same time each day to create a lasting routine.
Change your routine regularly and try different forms of exercise to prevent boredom and stay motivated.
Intense exercise that raises your heartbeat and makes you breathe heavily has been shown to have greater health benefits for people living with Parkinson’s. As long as it is within your capabilities, try and incorporate some moderate to intense exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week.
Always warm up and cool down before and after any physical activity.
Consider joining a fitness class or group activity. There are many group fitness classes available that are tailored specifically for people living with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s Care at Home
If you or someone you love is living with Parkinson’s, help is available in the form of dedicated live-in care. At The Good Care Group, we have over 10 years of experience supporting people in living a meaningful and fulfilling life despite the challenges of their condition.
All our professional carers receive Parkinson’s training as part of their induction programme in collaboration with Parkinson’s UK, the leading charity in the field of Parkinson’s disease care. Through our market-leading training programme, our carers receive the training and guidance they need to work positively with your condition and improve your quality of life.
Receiving professional and compassionate care offers substantial benefits for people living with Parkinson’s. Moving into a care home at any stage of life is distressing, but it is especially challenging for people with Parkinson’s. Live-in care allows you to receive one-to-one, dedicated Parkinson’s care in the comfort and familiarity of your own home.
There are many benefits of 24-hour care. On top of gently encouraging and supporting your exercise routine, a live-in carer can help you with many daily tasks such as private and discreet personal care, meal planning and preparation, managing and administering medications, or facilitating trips into your local community.