Exercises for Parkinson's

What are the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson's?

Exercise is vital for people with Parkinson's. It is one of the most important things you can do to stay well. It improves your overall health and wellbeing, and appears to improve your body's reaction to dopamine.

Regular exercise can also help to:

  • improve muscle flexibility, range of motion, coordination, balance, gait, speech and dexterity
  • strengthen tensor muscles which help keep the back straight
  • lessen stiffness and problems of posture
  • lessen fatigue
  • help relax muscles and relieve cramps
  • reduce stress, depression, insomnia and constipation.

Some studies also suggest physical exercise may possibly slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease as well.

Always consult your doctor/GP before starting any new exercises.

How much exercise should I do? 

People with Parkinson's should aim for a minimum of 20–30 minutes of daily exercise, including stretching exercises (these are especially helpful). You can also plan short exercise sessions (5–10 minutes) throughout the day to loosen your legs, stretch and breathe deeply. Remember, start small and gradually add more over time. Consistency is the key to success of an exercise programme. 

What types of exercise are best? 

There are many physical activities that are beneficial to people with Parkinson’s. Stretching exercises are particularly helpful. Tai chi, tango dancing, using a treadmill or elliptical machine or cycling have also been found to be useful. They sometimes have to be adapted to your condition. The following websites give more details on exercises for people with Parkinson's. 

References

Exercise for Parkinson’s disease – essential facts for patients  International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, 2016
Parkinson's disease and exercise Parkinsons Québec, Canada, 2015

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.