Exercise Physiology and Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise is becoming a well-known treatment for many chronic conditions and specifically, Parkinson’s Disease. The problem is seeking out the right people who have the knowledge and understanding to coach you through what is appropriate exercise for this condition.  These are exercise physiologists.

Exercise physiologists are university-qualified allied health professionals who understand the pathophysiology behind conditions and how certain types of exercise help target conditions in specific ways. Parkinson’s is often misinterpreted to just be physical movements that are altered such as shaking and tremors, however, there are a range of cognitive-related symptoms such as the risk of dementia progression, depression and anxiety.

Having the understanding behind the condition and the associated effects, assists in designing exercise that is specifically targeted to aiding the individual in improving their activities of daily living. Exercise physiologists are specifically trained to perform this function, utilising exercise as their tool for treatment. Exercise in general is one of the most beneficial tools for health and as this disease progresses, an individual increasingly loses their ability to move freely and this can inhibit the performance of everyday tasks. Exercise aids in improving strength and physical fitness to ensure independence and functionality are maintained. 

PD often increases risks of falls, causes freezes in movement and affects cognitive function. As an exercise physiologist, I know through research and education the benefits of how exercise can assist an individual with these above mentioned symptoms. With balance training, an individual can reduce the risk of a fall, or in combination with resistance training – maintaining bone mineral density and muscle mass to protect an individual from fractures and complications of a fall. Fast, big movements can help neural circuits with freezes in motion and exercise can aid in improving frontal lobe based executive function and higher-order cognitive function to delay to onset of dementia.

Having an exercise physiologist guide you through the right therapies and training methods suited to your needs can help in achieving overall wellbeing. Find your local exercise physiologist working in all different settings and working towards your goals with the knowledge behind them to ensure safe training durable towards your health!

Article Author

Thanks to Shake It Up Supporter and  Exercise Physiologist Ellie Goodwin for sharing this article with our supporters. 

Ellie graduated from Sydney University in 2017 has since been working with a range of different conditions but has an interest in the area of Parkinson’s.

Learn more about the benefits of exercise and Parkinson's.