If you or someone you know is dealing with Parkinson's disease, you know that over time, physical activity can get harder and harder. But the good news is that staying active and getting regular exercise can help! Exercise can help you manage Parkinson's symptoms; improve balance, strength and flexibility; boost mood and reduce stress; and even slow the progression of Parkinson's.
In addition to the physical and mental benefits, exercise can also provide a community of support. In episode five of the Parkinson's Disease Podcast, Kat Hill, a person living with Parkinson's disease, explained why exercise classes are so important to her: “Getting involved in a regular exercise program brought me both things: it took me to classes where I learned how to box and do high intensity interval training, and I met a whole new community of people. That was really life changing for me."
Of course you don't have to be a professional athlete or fitness enthusiast to get the most out of exercise. Starting a new exercise routine is all about taking small, manageable steps.
Here are a few easy tips to get started, according to The Parkinson’s Foundation:
Start with short walks and gradually increase your pace and distance.Walking with a friend can make it more enjoyable.
Stretch your arms, legs, and neck to increase flexibility. Consider yoga or tai chi, which combine gentle movement with deep breathing.
3. Strength training
Use light weights or resistance bands to build muscle. Focus on your legs and core for better stability.
4. Balance exercises
Stand on one leg for a few seconds and then switch to the other. Include exercises like heel-to-toe walking to enhance your balance.
Put on some music and dance around the living room. It's a fun way to get moving and improve coordination!
Water provides buoyancy, making it easier to move and exercise. Swimming or water aerobics are excellent choices.
7. Everyday activities
Gardening and housework can also be excellent forms of exercise. Don't underestimate the physical benefits of tending to your garden or cleaning your home.
Don't forget to consult with healthcare professionals:
- Before starting any exercise program, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.
- They can provide guidance on the best exercises and help you avoid any potential risks.
- Physical therapy can provide targeted exercises to address specific Parkinson's symptoms.
- Occupational therapy can help you adapt your daily activities and routines to make life easier.
Remember, everybody is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, be patient with yourself and find what suits you best. Stay optimistic, and don't be afraid to ask for support from friends, family, or a healthcare professional.
Parkinson's may present challenges, but exercise can be your secret weapon. It's a powerful tool to help you live a happier, healthier life. So, lace up those sneakers, put on some music, and start moving. You've got this!
To learn more about exercise and Parkinson’s disease, have a listen to episode five of our Parkinson’s Disease podcast.