It’s a well-known fact that exercise is beneficial for everyone. But did you know that exercise for individuals with Parkinson’s is especially helpful and can contribute toward easing symptoms? Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. Incorporating regular exercise into a person’s weekly routine can help individuals with Parkinson’s retain the ability to perform daily tasks and maintain mobility and balance.
What are the benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s?
While getting into the groove of a new fitness regimen may be intimidating, the results are worth it! Research studies show that exercise helps individuals with Parkinson’s in a variety of ways including:
- Improved cognitive functioning
- Healthy weight maintenance
- Increased flexibility and mobility
- Building and maintaining muscle strength and endurance
- Improved coordination, which can help reduce fall risk
- Preventing constipation
- Better sleep
- Improved cardiovascular fitness, especially lung and heart function
What types of exercise for Parkinson’s are most beneficial?
Strength training is an effective way for individuals with Parkinson’s to keep their muscles strong and to grow muscle mass. Strong muscles make it easier to perform day-to-day tasks and activities and maintain independence. Experts recommend exercising one muscle group at a time and alternating muscle groups in order to avoid overworking a specific muscle.
Examples of strength training exercises for various muscle groups include:
- Chair squats
- Wall push-ups
- Bicep curls
Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s, and balance training helps improve stability and reduces the risk of falls. In addition to working with a physician, consulting with a physical therapist who can assess an individual’s balance and walking will help determine the types of balance training and exercise that will be most beneficial.
In addition to physical therapy exercises, balance can be improved by participating in:
- Dance classes
- Tai chi
Aerobic training, also known as “cardio,” includes any exercises that increase the heart rate over a continuous period of time. Aerobic training is great for overall fitness, and it’s especially helpful for individuals with Parkinson’s. One study found that 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week has similar effects to many reputable Parkinson’s drugs.
Examples of aerobic training include:
Of course, it’s important to discuss any new exercise routine with the physician to ensure the individual is exercising in the most safe, effective way. For individuals who find it difficult to prioritize exercise in a weekly routine, it can be helpful to have a buddy to exercise with, so classes or fitness partners are highly encouraged.
What about the brain?
While the most visible effects of Parkinson’s are physical, such as decreased mobility and coordination, it also has degenerative neurological effects. Therefore, as the condition progresses, flexing the mind is another great form of exercise that can make a noticeable difference in a person’s life. Brain exercises can help keep the mind sharp, and they are also a stimulating way to add fun activities to a person’s daily routine.
For example, working on a puzzle together can be an engaging brain-boosting activity while also enabling time for companionship. Listening as an aging loved one reads aloud can keep the mind sharp while also helping to fuel the imagination. Any activities that are designed to improve memory and cognition can provide benefits and help individuals maintain independence.
If someone you love is living with Parkinson’s and you’d like more information on the many benefits of exercising the body and the brain, reach out to Abrio Home Care today! Our expert caregivers can help by providing support and encouragement, planning and preparing nourishing meals, offering friendly companionship, and much more. Contact us online or at 877-71-ABRIO to learn more about our top-rated in-home care services. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care in Arizona, please visit our Locations page.