Parkinson's Movement Program

Exercise is a vital part of daily life for all people who want to stay fit and healthy. For people with Parkinson’s disease, however, it is more than just about staying healthy. For them, the right exercises can improve vital aspects of daily living, such as mobility and maintaining balance.

The Parkinson's Foundation say there is growing evidence of the short and long-term benefits of exercise for people with PD.

Try the Gymnanigans 3:22 Tai Chi Daily Session

A study, known as the Parkinson's Outcome Project, by the same organization, found that people with PD who did exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week experienced a slower decline in their mobility and quality of life than others.

One of the main benefits of exercise for people with PD is symptom management. This includes improvement of:

  • walking
  • balance
  • tremors
  • flexibility
  • grip strength
  • motor coordination
  • posture
  • stiffness

Impact of Exercise on the Brain 

Exercise not only helps the physical aspects of PD but the mental ones as well. It has been shown to help relieve symptoms of fatigue, mood, sleep problems, and mental health. 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, as well as regulating movement and emotional responses. In PD, there is a dopamine deficiency.

While exercise has not been shown to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain, research does show that it helps it to be used more efficiently.

Try the Gymnanigans 3:22 Tai Chi Daily Session
Tai Chi inspired Workout
Trying different forms of exercise is important, as it may help to challenge PD symptoms more effectively.

 

The exercises that someone with PD should undertake will depend on how limiting their symptoms are. In all cases, the exercise should focus on three areas:

  • flexibility and stretching
  • aerobic, also known as cardio
  • resistance or using the muscles against opposing force

There are many different types of exercise that involve all three of these areas. These exercises include:

  • tai chi
  • yoga
  • cycling
  • skipping
  • running
  • Pilates
  • dancing

The exercise type known as “random practice” has been shown to benefit people with PD particularly. This is an aerobic exercise that challenges the individual to change speed, activity, or direction.

It is also essential for someone with PD to vary activities. This is because people with the condition may have trouble changing activity and doing two activities at the same time. As a result, random practice and variation will help to challenge those symptoms.

There is no specific exercise program that someone with PD should undertake. The best exercises to do will take into consideration an individual’s symptoms.

It's recommended that people with mild symptoms should focus on vigorous exercise, such as working out in a gym.

People with moderate symptoms should focus on exercises that target those symptoms. Individuals with more complex symptoms should simply focus on using exercises to help them complete daily activities that are problematic.

It is worth noting that cycling, in particular, requires both balance and reaction time. These two qualities are both impaired by PD. As a result, using a traditional bicycle could be a safety risk. Alternatives include three-wheeled bikes and tandems.

The University of California also say that weight training is not the best choice for people with PD, although strengthening exercises do have value.

Strengthening exercises that are alternatives to weight training include:

  • pushing up to rise onto the toes
  • modified squats
  • repeatedly getting up from and sitting in a chair
  • wearing weights on the ankles and wrists at home or on a walk
  • push-ups or wall push-ups

Swimming is a good exercise for coordination, but it does not require balance. As such, it may not be the best exercise for people with PD.

The ideal time for someone with PD to exercise is when their mobility is best, which is often around an hour after they have taken their medication if any or a few hours after they gotten out a bed and moved around. This can vary, however, so every individual will have to work out when their mobility is at its best.

Try the Gymnanigans 3:22 Tai Chi Daily Session

A 2021 review analyzed three studies of tai chi’s effect on falls in people with Parkinson’s disease. The 3 studies included a total of 273 participants who did 60-minute tai chi sessions two to three times per week for 12 weeks to 6 months. The analysis indicated that tai chi had a significant positive effect on reducing falls when compared with both no intervention and different interventions like resistance training and stretching.

IF you or a loved one is ready for a Parkinson's Movement Program contact Donna at 707-310-0863