Exercising with Parkinson’s

Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. For people with Parkinson’s, exercise can be vital in maintaining balance, mobility and everyday activities. Finding an enjoyable exercise routine to suit you can be a really positive thing.

Exercising and physical activity can be greatly beneficial in helping manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s. There is no best exercise for Parkinson’s; the best one is the one that is safe, enjoyable, and right for you. There are many types of exercises that are popular among people with Parkinson’s around the world, including walking, boxing, dancing, ping pong, and golf to name but a few.

It is important to remember that no one exercise is better than another. You may find that you prefer swimming to cycling, or many people prefer being in a class exercise environment rather than exercising alone. Some people enjoy mixing it up from time to time with a variety of workouts, we recommend finding something that you really enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Once you have found the exercise you like most, try to do it regularly, ideally at least 2-3 times per week.

Why should you exercise?

Everyone with Parkinson’s should exercise. It is important for general health and well-being and may help with some motor and non-motor symptoms such as constipation and sleep problems. Regardless of your age, fitness level, or Parkinson’s symptoms, there is something for everyone out there to get started.

When is the best time?

There is no best time to exercise, as it may vary due to sleep patterns, work schedules, medication routine, or your own preferences. Some people enjoy exercising first thing in the morning to get them ready for the day, others prefer working out in the evening when they have a bit more time to do what they like. We would recommend finding a time that fits your routine, and when you are feeling your best during the day so that you can exercise to your full potential.

Are there any key exercises?

As we said, there is no one exercise better than the other, it is more about finding something that suits you and that you enjoy doing. There are some key ‘ingredients’ that you should try build into in your workout, which are:

  • Aerobic activity
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Resistance training and strengthening exercises

Most of these ‘ingredients’ are included in many exercises like biking, walking, dancing, boxing, as well as many more.

Can exercise worsen symptoms?

Pushing yourself too hard (lifting weights that are too heavy, improper form, etc.) may result in injury, so remember to build up slowly. If you are new to exercise, a physical therapist could help you to start slowly and to gently increase your intensity. So, remember to take your time and have fun.