Hobbies and Leisure Activities Help My Sister Manage Parkinson’s Disease

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by Jo Gambosi |

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My sister Bev, who has stage 3 Parkinson’s disease (PD), loves to bake. Although she has moderate cognitive issues, baking and gardening are things she can still do well. Despite her Parkinson’s, these hobbies help her to focus and concentrate.

Bev says that concentrating deeply on a task helps her to think more clearly and avoid drifting thoughts. Sometimes, it even helps to ease her shaking and balance issues. I witnessed this once when she decided to make banana bread during a visit. It was clear to me that keeping her mind on the recipe was both therapeutic and fun for her. I knew not to interrupt, or I would’ve been in trouble!

That made me wonder if hobbies, crafts, and other leisure activities might help people with PD or other chronic diseases to better control their symptoms, including depression and anxiety.

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Research seems to support the idea that leisure activities, such as hobbies and volunteering, among others, have health benefits. In a recent column, I mentioned how Bev manages her PD by spending time in nature, planting flowers, and repotting plants. Bev says that planting flowers helps her hand coordination and concentration.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, “It is important for people with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners to stay active through physical, mental and social stimulation and to engage in activities that promote relaxation.”

Suggestions for leisure activities

According to my research and observations, the following activities are some of the things people with PD have found helpful:

  • Playing cards: Card games can help people with PD revive their brain function through problem-solving.
  • Painting and art therapy: By holding a paintbrush and making small brush strokes, a person with PD can use painting to strengthen fine motor skills.
  • Dance: Dance classes can help to improve motor skills and cognitive abilities, and can foster personal artistic expression. According to Dance for PD, a program that offers specialized dance classes for people with PD and their care partners around the world, dance can help to improve gait and balance issues, and also decrease feelings of isolation through social interaction.
  • Singing: Bev loves to sing along to songs by Neil Diamond and Johnny Mathis. Singing not only helps with breath strength and speaking volume, it also uplifts her mood. The impact of singing on PD was discussed by a cleverly titled study — “ParkinSong: A Controlled Trial of Singing-Based Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease” — published in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair in 2019. According to the study, those with PD who participated showed “significant improvements in vocal intensity …, maximum expiratory pressure …, and voice-related quality of life … in comparison to controls.”

So, it seems that leisure time is good for our health and our souls. Make time for hobbies, such as going for walks in nature, journaling, or whichever activity helps you to best manage your physical and emotional well-being.

 “If you are losing your leisure, look out! — It may be you are losing your soul.” ― Virginia Woolf


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.


Thanh Pham avatar

Thanh Pham

I have brain damage and my tremors getting worse if I do reading financial newspaper, or doing some critical thinking.

Pat Bemis avatar

Pat Bemis

I LOVE these stories. Please keep them coming as they are both helpful and entertaining. Thank you for sharing.


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