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Exercise & Stages of Parkinson’s disease


Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. While there is no cure, various treatments and interventions can help manage its symptoms and improve quality of life. Exercise is your first line of defense – and the only proven intervention to delay symptoms. Exercise not only helps maintain physical function but can also have a positive impact on mood, cognition, and overall well-being.
The type and intensity of exercise should be tailored to the individual’s specific stage of Parkinson’s disease, any limitations and specific symptoms (since everyone with PD presents differently).

Hit it hard! Get that heartrate up. Practice taking big steps (yes – even if you aren’t taking small steps yet). Gait training, changing directions, mutli-tasking, and strength training mostly with dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, etc.

Get the heart rate up however you can. This may mean a stationary bike or a treadmill depending on symptoms. Practice taking big steps, power moves to catch yourself if you trip on something or find yourself off-balance, strength training, gait training using an agility ladder and/or hurdles, etc.

Seated exercises may be key here – especially for heartrate. This may include a recumbent bike or simply raising opposite arm and leg up and switching. My clients at this stage perform sit to stands from a box (sometimes using a bar or a TRX to assist), glute bridges on the floor (or a table), stability practice using core muscles, gait training (holding on if necessary), etc.

Incorporate large movements in every session. Parkinson’s means everything gets small. Practicing large movements from the beginning is a good idea.
Exercises that utilize rotational movements are also very important. Parkinson’s creates stiffness, especially in the back. Being able to rotate can help with everyday tasks/moves.
A strong core is highly correlated with balance. Learning how to create stability and resist outside forces will help avoid falls as much as possible.
Be mindful of posture. Another key to balance is looking forward as you walk instead of down.

Does this seem overwhelming?
Work with a professional who has the knowledge to create a program just for you.

While Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, it was been proven that exercise is the best way to delay – or even reverse – symptoms.

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