Exercising with Parkinson's Disease - Vital Information You Should Know
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Parkinson's Disease and Exercise: Is It a Good Idea?

Parkinson's Disease and Exercise: Is It a Good Idea?

The dangers of sedentary living are well-known, and exercise is now a firmly established key to keeping your body in top shape. But for people with Parkinson's disease, there are even more reasons to get moving. 

Exercise can help maintain flexibility, mobility, and endurance—it can also give you a sense of accomplishment, boosts your confidence, and a feeling of control over your life, especially if you depend on senior care. 

If you're newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD), it's natural to have questions about how exercise will affect you. Here is vital information about exercising with Parkinson's.

When Should You Begin Exercising if You Have Parkinson's Disease?

It's important to start exercising as soon as possible after being diagnosed with PD. While it is tempting to delay getting started until your symptoms become more severe, research shows that starting sooner rather than later is critical to slowing the progression of Parkinson's disease.

If you're unsure about what exercises are best for you as a Parkinson's patient, consult your doctor or a physical therapist. They will recommend specific exercises that will help minimize your symptoms and address your particular concerns.

Best Types of Exercises for Parkinson's Patients

There are four types of exercise that Parkinson's patients should make an effort to incorporate into their lives:

Aerobics

Aerobic activity (aka "cardio") helps build endurance. It helps increase the blood flow throughout the body, increasing oxygen levels in the bloodstream. Aerobic exercises include walking on a treadmill or outside, swimming, biking, and dancing!

Strength Training

It would be best to do strength training 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days to allow muscles adequate time to rest between workouts. This can include resistance bands or weight machines that work with every major muscle group. Strength training will help slow down muscle deterioration and increase bone density and overall strength and coordination.

BAM (Body and Mind)

Balance exercises help patients with Parkinson's have better equilibrium, improving their overall well-being. They also increase the strength in their legs and the muscles in the lower half of the body. 

Agility exercises keep the individual from getting stiff because this disease can cause muscles to get tight. This type of exercise increases the range of motion in the arms and legs.

Multitasking exercises are essential for people with Parkinson's disease because it helps them improve their mental function and memory. It also enhances their verbal skills, which are vital in communicating with others. 

Flexibility

Flexibility is another critical factor for those with Parkinson's. Yoga and light calisthenics such as planks or push-ups may help improve flexibility and can be done with a senior care helper.

Benefits of Exercising With Parkinson's Disease

If you have Parkinson's, you probably already know that exercise can do wonders for your health and well-being. But if you aren't taking advantage of the benefits of exercise, now is the perfect time to get started. 

First of all, exercise can help relieve some of the symptoms of Parkinson's. Exercise can:

  • Improve posture and balance
  • Boost mood and reduce depression
  • Increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Improve coordination 
  • Strengthen muscles 
  • Increase daily energy level 

How Far Should You Go When Exercising With Parkinson's

But how far should you go when exercising with Parkinson's? The answer isn't the same for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for people with Parkinson's disease when it comes to exercise. It's crucial to find a program that works best for your symptoms, fitness level, and preferences. Some people like to exercise in a group or with a trainer, while others prefer to work out at home.

Are There Any Risks to Exercising if You Have Parkinson's?

The benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks for most people with Parkinson's disease. But before starting any new exercise program, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor about the best options for you. If you have questions about exercise and its effect on your medications, bring those up.

Tips for Getting Started

While exercising with Parkinson's may seem challenging at first, there are ways to make it easier and safer. Here is what you need to have in mind when you start a new exercise regimen:

Talk With Your Doctor

Before commencing any exercise program, talk with your doctor about all the benefits and potential risks. Even if you're going for a walk around the neighborhood, you should always let your doctor know what you're doing.

Start Slowly

If it's been long since you last exercised or are new to working out, start small before progressing to complete routines. For example, go on a 10-minute walk each day and gradually increase the length of your walks over time. If necessary, ask a senior care helper or loved one to join you for extra motivation and safety. 

In the management of Parkinson's symptoms, exercise is vital. But some people may be hesitant to exercise. The idea of doing more harm than good can be a scary thought. However, there should be no worries as long as you're exercising safely and effectively! Contact us at Senior Helpers of Chicago for more information on how we can help you manage Parkinson's disease.