Exercise for Parkinson's

Exercise is needed to maintain good health and especially when you are living with Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms experienced with Parkinson’s can be better managed with exercise, therefore it is as important as medication. The correct type and intensity of exercise can help slow the progression of the condition. A variety of different types of exercise is good and if you find something you like there is a better chance you will stick with it.  Use it or lose it! Regular exercise can help improve your strength, balance, posture and flexibility, and keep your heart and lungs healthy.




How can exercise help people with Parkinson’s?

Exercise is good for your well-being and to connect with others. The right exercise can help people remain physically active, and reduce discomfort from pain and other symptoms affecting mobility. Exercise done in a group setting can contribute to a sociable and active lifestyle. and improve sleep. It can even help with issues that many people don’t talk openly about, such as constipation or problems with mood. Many people with Parkinson’s also talk of exercise as a way of taking back some control in order to manage their symptoms, with some going as far as to say it helps them “fight back” against the condition.  It is recommended to do at least 2.5 hours per week.

What is the best type of exercise for Parkinson’s?

As Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, there is no ideal solution or exercise for everyone. So, the exercise framework suggests a blend of styles and intensity that will help people with Parkinson’s do what they can at different times over the course of their condition. Some people may be participating in more vigorous (higher-intensity) exercise at the gym, or out cycling and running with friends. Others may prefer a less aerobic-type exercise like Pilates or yoga but also a brisk walk to get your heart rate up can be beneficial. Exercise might be done individually or in a class, and can be targeted to specific symptoms, like balance, or at improving general health and wellbeing. So, to answer this question, we say that the best type of exercise should help people with Parkinson’s to feel and remain as fit and well as possible to manage everyday life. There are now many classes online which can help people who find it easier to have a schedule to follow.  This can help motivate people as apathy can make it more difficult if people are left to their own devices.

Types of Exercise

If your symptoms are mild, focus on vigorous exercise. Try gym sessions, running, cycling, tennis, circuit training or high-intensity workout classes. 

Other exercise types such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, Table Tennis help with strength, balance, movement, coordination and flexibility. Gardening can also be considered a good form of exercise.  It is important to do a variety of exercises that will work on the upper and lower body for strength and flexibility.  Balance exercises are also important in the management of Parkinson’s. Talk to a physiotherapist or your health professional who knows about Parkinson’s for more advice and to plan the right exercise for you, especially if you’re just getting started.



Check out these videos of exercise that some of our members do on a regular basis

Paddy likes to cycle and has been a keen cyclist for many years.  Parkinson’s has not stopped him from cycling and he finds it good to help him to stay strong and good for balance.

Yvonne finds power lifting great for upper body strength and she started this a number of years after her diagnosis.

Fiona likes sea swimming and likes to swim both in winter and summer. She finds it good for muscle stiffness and to keep fit.

Nigel likes Kayaking.  He makes good use of the lakes close by. He finds it good for upper body strength and also keeps the arms and shoulders flexible.

Mary finds skipping good to get the heart rate up and is great for co-ordination and balance.  It also loosens up the shoulders which may become stiff.