The benefits of exercise, and how it improves your overall health and wellbeing, are well-documented. The good news is that in can be equally rewarding for people with Parkinson’s disease. One of the main effects of the disease is rigid and stiff joints, and exercise is the perfect antidote.

Of course, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, there’ll be moments of great uncertainty and periods of listlessness or depression. However, it’s vital that you get out and about to keep yourself limber.

Did you know?

The benefits of constant exercise for someone with Parkinson’s disease may include:

  • Improved posture
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Less muscle cramps
  • More confidence in daily activities
  • Increased control of motor movements
  • Better strength and flexibility in muscles
  • Enhanced heart fitness
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Reduced stress levels

Getting started

A good place to start is to evaluate your overall fitness levels. Consult with your specialist or a fitness therapist on what forms of exercise would be best for your stage of Parkinson’s disease.

One of the important rules, for anyone, is to schedule a thorough medical examination before you embark on any form of exercise. Remember to start slow and work your way up, preferably by doing a sport or form of exercise that you enjoy.

If you cannot afford a fitness therapist or personal trainer, look online for a gym or workout partner, or get you caregivers involved.

The following are a few forms of exercise can be beneficial to you:

  • Dancing
  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Gardening
  • Stationary cycling
  • Water aerobics
  • Speech and drama classes

As with all exercise, it’s important to prepare, to recognise your endurance levels, and to know when to stop. For people with PD, this is particularly important.

Consider the following:

  • Always warm up and cool down before and after any exercise.
  • If you’re unfit, start with 5-minute exercise sessions and work your way up.
  • Exercise safely (avoid poor lighting and slippery floors, for instance).
  • Always exercise near a rail for balance.
  • Exercise in bed if you have trouble standing or getting up (your physiotherapist can work out a programme for you).
  • If you feel nauseas or experience any pain, stop!

Remember: Parkinson’s symptoms will vary from person to person, so it’s important to choose the type of exercise that fits with your symptoms and stage of disease. Most importantly, choose something that you really enjoy, and stick with it. Research shows that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can hugely improve your motor control and make your life with Parkinson’s disease more manageable.

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