Exercise is an important part of healthy living for everyone. For people with Parkinson’s research has shown that exercise is particularly important to help maintain balance, strengthen your muscles, and increase your mobility.
In this video Rachel Dolhun MD from The Michael J. Fox Foundation discusses the benefits of physical activity, provides tips on starting and maintaining a workout regimen, and covers the latest research on exercise’s effect on PD.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
It depends on your overall fitness level, but a good first step is to talk to your doctor and have a thorough checkup before starting any activity. For many people it’s important to start slowly, and one good way to start is with a physical therapist. This way you can get an “exercise prescription” and work with an expert to determine what you can (and can’t) do safely. Especially if you haven’t been regularly exercising, it may be best to begin under the supervision of a professional who has access to professional equipment.
The best way to achieve benefits is to exercise on a consistent basis. People with Parkinson’s enrolled in exercise programs with duration’s longer than six months, regardless of exercise intensity, have shown significant gains in functional balance and mobility as compared to programs of only two-week or ten-week durations.
- People new to exercise programs are generally best off working with an individual or group training leader; for people whose mobility is significantly affected by PD, a physical therapist may be the best choice for helping to start a program.
LISTEN TO A PODCAST: Why Can Exercise Help? Spoken by Giselle Petzinger, PhD, of the University of Southern California.
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE IS BEST FOR PARKINSON’S?
The best exercise is the one that your doctor approves of and that appeals to you, because you’ll stick with it. With that said, some options seem to be working particularly well for people with PD:
- Dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease are ongoing in more than 75 other communities around the world. Participants are empowered to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating and creative.
- Boxing is gaining popularity among some people with PD, who find they gain hope and improve quality of life through a non-contact-boxing-based fitness curriculum.
- There is some evidence to support the hypothesis that cycling holds particular benefit for people with Parkinson’s disease.
- We know of at least one Parkinson’s patient who swears by fencing:
LISTEN TO A PODCAST: What Forms of Exercise Help Most? Spoken by Lisa Shulman, MD, of the University of Maryland.
WHAT RESEARCH IS BEING DONE ON EXERCISE & PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
The University of Sydney invites you to take part in a research study about the exercise preferences of people with Parkinson’s disease. The study investigates the exercise preferences of people with PD, specifically they are investigating what features of exercise programs are likely to influence choice, and therefore, adherence and uptake. These features include: type and frequency of exercise, location, travel time, amount and expertise of supervision, expected benefits and cost. The survey can be completed at home, online or as a paper-based survey for individuals who do not have access to the internet or who are not comfortable completing the online version. Find out how you can get involved
Another study ParkFit is a two-year research project aimed at promoting an active lifestyle in Parkinson’s patients and measuring the benefits of activity for people with PD. Led by Dutch researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in The Netherlands, ParkFit is the largest exercise study in Parkinson’s disease to date.
According to a study led by Lisa Shulman, MD, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, low-intensity exercise improves walking in people with Parkinson’s. Bastiaan Bloem, MD, an expert on exercise and Parkinson’s disease, explains that Shulman’s findings underscore the importance of exercise to PD patients.
Learn more about the benefits of Exercise and Parkinson’s