Getting Exercise Any Which Way You Can

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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I have frequented a gym for the past two years, participating in Rock Steady Boxing classes. I love the fellowship and camaraderie with other people who understand the Parkinson’s journey I am on. 


However, I have had to step back from my class for a while and take a detour. The boxing part of the class has jarred open my pain box, causing me to sidestep class until my body feels better. 

What to do? I can’t just stop and let the muscles and strength I have acquired turn to mush. That would be a step backward. Yet it feels as if I have had to step backward — from punching bags, at least. However, I do find some exercises tolerable if done gently or in smaller increments than in class. I keep up with exercises such as jumping rope, lunges, pushups, situps, and more. I also walk frequently and regularly.

I exercise when I am able and not in pain. For example, when my grandson is over and I am playing with him on the carpet, I tell him it is time for some pushups. That is his cue to see who can do them the fastest. And he proudly always does. 

You do what you can, when you can

Being more structured in your routine is most likely the best choice, including having a set time and place to exercise. But sometimes you might feel as if you can’t be more structured. That is when we must remind ourselves to do what we can, when we can. When we are able to do an exercise routine again, we can rejoin the groups that keep us accountable.

For the past year, I have been following a program called Delay the Disease, which offers several beneficial exercises. The workouts have a lower impact on the body than boxing. Those in the program post a new exercise almost daily on their Facebook page for Parkinson’s patients. The posts are aimed at a specific thing to work on, such as balance, getting up from the floor, lifting, etc. 

Core muscles

I try to aim for strengthening my core muscles, which are the muscles that enable me to roll over and get out of bed more easily. They also enable me to get up from a couch or chair more easily, as well as dropping to the floor and getting back up again when playing Legos with my grandkids. 

Anyone associated with Parkinson’s will tell you how important exercise is. So, do it — any which way you can.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


David Blacker avatar

David Blacker

This is a really important comment on the value of exercise, and should be read in conjunction with the article about the planned exercise study in Australia. We need to consider exercise as a treatment for PD; rather than “any way you can”; you wouldn’t take medications like that. The example of carrying an injury through boxing is very important . I am very interested in boxing as a treatment for PD, but we need to learn a lot more about the appropriate dose, intensity and how to taylor individual programs for different stages if PD. We need to be careful not to become injured, and I am worried that some of the current boxing programs which don’t pay much attention to correct technique risk causing harm.
This is why i have worked with a professional boxing coach, exercise scientists and a neurophysiotherapist to design a non- contact boxing exercise program; Feasibility of Initiating Graduated High intensity Training for PD- FIGHT -PD; we will start at the Perron Institute in Perth Australia in the next few months.
I am eager to help as many PD patients as possible with this.
David Blacker - neurologist with PD

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

So true! Move it or lose it! I box, do the PWRMOVES program and take ballroom dance!!! Do something!

Daniel Novak avatar

Daniel Novak

"Punching bags" [heavy bags] hurt! I have had ongoing injuries and pain since I started boxing for PD seven years ago. But I still try to box most of the time because of the camaraderie and the adrenaline boost, and of course, the high intensity workouts.

Once our world-champ coach realized I was serious about fighting my PD but I was not a candidate for going pro, he pushes me but lets me adapt my workouts as needed. Sometimes I don't hit 'heavy' at all. I play hot potato with the bag and pull back my punch just as it touches the bag. At some of the assigned stations I substitute a 'core' exercise in place of another pain burner. I keep a list of PD-specific exercises from our world-class experts [too many to list starting with our local Dr. Val on out to Drs. Fox and Foley and ...] and I substitute freely. By hitting the gym alongside my comrades I benefit in many ways while encouraging others and supporting the PD-specific program that was created just for us [me].


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