Exercise is important for all of us but if you are living with Parkinson's it has particular benefits. People living with Parkinson's can see a significant improvement in their symptoms and mood as a result of exercise. Some Parkinson's symptoms that may improve with exercise include:
+ balance and reduced falls
+ gait (how we walk)
+ cognition (how we think)
+ strength and coordination
+ stiffness and mobility
We know that depression and anxiety can be a feature of Parkinson's, there is good evidence that exercise is can help prevent and treat depression and to a lessor extent anxiety. A recent study by the Black Dog Institute found that as little as 1 hour per week can make a difference.
There is also evidence that exercise may have some neuro-protective benefits and may slow down the progression of Parkinson's.
What sort of exercise? The short answer is that any exercise is good and it will also depend at what stage you are at with your Parkinson's. There do appear to be some exercise types that work particularly well in Parkinson's, these include:
brisk walking or running
yoga and tai chi
How much should I do? The general recommendation is that everyone gets at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.
What have you got to lose, at worst you will feel a little better and be healthier and best you will improve your symptoms and may even slow the progression of your Parkinson's.
start slow, know your limits
increase the intensity of exercise as you get fitter
if you get pain stop the exercise
mix it up a bit - walk, do some yoga, go to a dance class
A disclaimer - whilst exercise is highly recommended you should talk to your GP or other health professional before taking up an exercise program. This advice applies to anyone taking up an exercise program not just people living with Parkinson's. Your GP or health professional is in a position to give you advice about exercise with your medical conditions, age and general health in mind.