Three Types of Exercise that People with Parkinson’s Disease Should Try

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Approximately 10 million people all over the world are currently living with Parkinson’s Disease.  Out of all these people, many have trouble exercising regularly, despite the fact that it provides a number of benefits, including:

Reduced stiffness
Better mobility, balance, gait, and posture
Improved memory
Reduced depression

If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s disease and doesn’t know where to begin when it comes to exercise, keep reading to learn about three types of exercise that all Parkinson’s patients should try.

Resistance Training
Resistance training is essential for maintaining muscle mass while improving balance, reducing muscle and joint stiffness, and strengthening the postural muscles.

Weightlifting is not ideal for Parkinson’s patients, particularly those who are new to exercise in general. However, there are lots of other resistance exercises patients can do instead. Some examples include:

Static squats or wall sits
Calf raises
Modified push-ups or wall push-ups
Back extensions
Floor bridges
Standing up from and sitting down on a chair or bench
Walking with ankle or wrist weights

Hand- and wrist-strengthening exercises are also important for maintaining the fine motor skills needed for handwriting, getting dressed, and using eating utensils. People with advanced Parkinson’s disease typically need to rely on tools like a self-stabilizing steady spoon, but improving hand strength can help delay the need for these instruments.

Some good hand-strengthening exercises include squeezes and stretches with therapy putty and curls with very light weights.
Cardiovascular Exercises
Cardiovascular exercises are good for the heart and lungs while also promoting good biomechanics and posture. Learning-based cardiovascular exercises like dancing and boxing also help improve memory and attention.

Some good cardiovascular exercise options for people with Parkinson’s disease include:
Paced treadmill walking (switching up the speed and incline regularly)
Hiking with walking sticks
Swimming
Dancing
Marching while incorporating arm swings
Sports like ping pong, golf, or tennis
Aerobics or Jazzercise classes
Chair aerobics with very light weights

Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility exercises, like those taught in yoga classes, are also beneficial for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Flexibility exercises reduce pain and stiffness while also improving Parkinson’s patients’ mobility and balance. This, in turn, reduces their risk of falls while also improving their gait and posture.

Exercise routines like yoga and Tai Chi are also great for building strength safely. Many of the poses used in these routines use isometric contractions (holding a position without changing the angle or length of the muscle), which help improve balance and stability.

Finally, yoga and Tai Chi come with many psychosocial benefits. People with Parkinson’s Disease often struggle with mood disorders and poor sleep.

These kinds of exercise have a calming effect, which can reduce stress, improve sleep, and help patients feel more relaxed and in control of their situation, all of which can improve mood and reduce feelings of depression.

Tips for Starting an Exercise Routine
It can be tough for Parkinson’s patients to start an exercise routine, especially if they’ve been sedentary for a long time. To avoid injury and ensure you or a loved one has a good experience when they start exercising, keep these tips in mind:

Talk to your primary care physician and neurologist first to determine the best form of exercise for you
Work with a physical therapist to create a safe, structured program to follow

Start small to avoid injury or exhaustion
Switch up your routine by exercising inside and outside to help you stay motivated
Choose types of exercise that you truly enjoy, otherwise, you’ll have a hard time sticking with any kind of program