A good regular exercise routine can go a long way in helping one deal with Parkinson’s disease. Since Parkinson’s largely impairs the movement or motor functions of the body, exercising can be an effective way to counter the effects. Parkinson’s exercises may increase your muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Exercise can also improve your well-being and reduce depression or anxiety.
Depending on the stage of your Parkinson’s disease, you may need to work with your therapist to learn the most effective exercise routine that works for you. The main thing is to ensure that you give a work out to your muscles and bones through a daily regime that could include things like walking, swimming, gardening, aerobics or stretching. Regular exercising can help patients with Parkinson’s improve their balance.
Just 2-3 hours of exercise regularly every week can slow down the progression of your motor or movement symptoms. Exercising also helps you with other non-physical symptoms such as sleep disorders, fatigue, and mood. It is no secret that exercising helps lift mood due to the release of mood-enhancing chemicals by the brain.
General Exercise Rules
- Do not over exercise. The objective is to keep your muscles fit and not to have a six pack
- Take frequent rests in-between exercise routines
- Take up exercises that involve active movement of your legs and arms such as walking, jogging or even swimming
- Exercise parts of your body especially hands through exercise kits that enable them such as sponge balls for your hands. Keeping one handy will help you regularly exercise your hand.
- Do moderate and vigorous intensity exercise to get the best performance from the body
- Exercise 5 times a week in a max of 30 minutes
- You can increase your exercise dose after consulting with your therapist.
- Be safe. Before starting an exercise program, consult your neurologist and primary care doctor about concerns and recommendations.
- Work together with your therapist or doctor to identify your concerns and limitations. Target exercises to improve them. For most people, a structured exercise program will include aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) and resistance training (using weights or bands).
- Purchase a pedometer (step-counter) and figure out how many steps you take on average each day, then build up from there. Many smartphones or smartwatches have a built-in pedometer feature or an application that can be downloaded.
- Exercise indoors and outdoors. Change your routine to stay interested and motivated.
- And most importantly pick an exercise you enjoy.
What types of exercise are best for people with Parkinson’s disease?
Aerobic and learning-based exercises could be neuroprotective in aging individuals and those with neurodegenerative disease. Exercise programs that work out the heart and lungs as well as promote good posture, body rotation and normal rhythmic, movements are the best. You could even explore dancing to music to reduce joint stiffness.
Exercises that promote changes in tempo, activity or direction benefits people with Parkinson’s. Keeping a variety in your exercise routine in importing. Exercises that require balance and rhythmic activities such as skipping, cycling or dancing is also good.
Mental exercises are also good as they promote attention and learning.
- Yoga classes
- Tai Chi classes
- Stepping over obstacles
- Marching to music with big arm swings
- Sports (Table Tennis, Badminton, golf, tennis, volleyball)
- Aerobic/Jazz classes
- Walking on a treadmill with different speeds and inclines
- Swimming with different strokes
- Cycling. However please remember that maintaining a balance is difficult in you to have Parkinson’s. Hence stationery cycling in a gym or using a three-wheeled cycle is best.
Exercises if you are an early stage Parkinson’s Patient
If your symptoms are mild, this is the optimal time to improve physical condition to remain well, prevent inactivity and the complications of sedentary behavior. You can do the following exercises
- Sports like Tennis, Badminton
- Cycling whether at the gym or on the cycle track.
- Jogging, running or swimming
- Leisure aerobics
- You can also do Parkinson’s specific exercises such as PD Warrior. This is a neuroprotective specialized exercise approach for not only managing but improving and slowing down the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
- Do hand and wrist exercise to control tremors. They are highly effective.
Exercises if you are a more advanced stage Parkinson’s patient
If you are in an advanced stage of Parkinson’s your movement would be fairly restricted. Exercises that focus on your daily activities such as getting out of a chair, turning or walking safely will help you greatly. This will also help you prevent discomfort related to postural changes.
You can explore
- Functional exercise (chair-based with the use of resistance bands)
- A supervised session with a professional therapist.
- At home, programs to stay moving, avoid sedentary behavior
- Pedal Exerciser
- Resistance band workouts
- Seated exercises
Other exercises you could also do
Learn to hold your pen lightly and begin writing in cursive style. Use a pen or pencil that has a rough surface so that grip is better. Write by moving the whole arm and not just your hand. You could also practice writing song notes and sing them aloud. Use children’s drawing pads to practice your writing.
Learn to talk slowly, clearly and loudly. You will initially find it difficult to bring expressions and inflections in your voice. Use body language to communicate your expressions, especially with your eyes and arms. You can also read the newspaper or novel loudly
Exercising the mind is as important as the body. You could try the following mental learning programs
- Scrabble – the all-time word game is useful in helping you use your mind
- Word association games
- Knitting is a good pastime and also helping cognitively
- Solving the daily crossword
The key to fighting Parkinson’s disease is to stay fit and have a healthy full lifestyle. Exercises are and should be a part of your fight against Parkinson’s. And always as usual, consult your Parkinson’s specialist and your physical therapist for the right exercise for your stage of Parkinson