Parkinson’s News Forums Forums Parkinson’s Treatment Diet and Exercise What’s the most effective exercise routine for PD?

  • What’s the most effective exercise routine for PD?

    Posted by Mary Beth Skylis on August 31, 2020 at 11:45 am

    While exercise is shown to have positive impacts on everybody, exercise types are not created equal. Cardiovascular exercises, for instance, target different parts of the body than strength training. When it comes to Parkinson’s, I wonder if there are some exercises that would be particularly beneficial to patients. In your own experience, what is the most effective exercise routine for PD? Do you find that certain styles of exercise help more than others?

    Debbie Lucchesi replied 2 years, 4 months ago 24 Members · 35 Replies
  • 35 Replies
  • Jeffery Hill

    August 31, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Based on what I’ve read and experienced the routine should have at least 3 components:

    1. High intensity cardio.  My favourite form is a 60 minute spin class.  My heart rate is around 120-160 bpm for most of the class.  3 classes per week.

    2.  Resistance (weight lifting)

    3.  Stretching.  I do yoga and aqua fit.

    I was doing all of this indoors at my YMCA until COVID 19 hit.  I dare not go back inside until the pandemic is over.  Meanwhile I’m trying to improvise…

    • Paul Baxt

      January 20, 2022 at 3:51 pm

      I have an orthopedic surgeon who has stage one Parkinson’s moving onto stage two shortly I am currently enrolled in a unique therapy program at the Cleveland clinic in Florida

      The short name is it is the Berlin program I think you should look it up on Google it has been very effective does not involve weights it doesn’t involve anything that in all my years in orthopedic surgery Iverson considered to be physical therapy but in the short term it is helping me and if you read the long term papers on results they are very positive

  • Michael R. Scott

    September 1, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Dear Mary Beth,

    15 min stretches and core training

    30 min weight training (nose to toes)

    15-30 minutes on a computerized exercise bike on random and 10

    Been doing  for over 50 years since SF days and it really helps!… 🙂

  • Scott Corbridge

    September 2, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I agree that three spinning classes per week is excellent for cardio and Parkinson’s. In addition I attend three boxing for Parkinson’s classes per week. I have not seen anyone show decline particularly in the Parkinson’s boxing class.

  • Mary Beth Skylis

    September 6, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Thank you for sharing, everyone!

    I know that my Dad starts the day with a stretching routine. And he likes to ride his bike or mow the lawn in the afternoons. I’ve read that high-intensity activities help alot. Has it been difficult to stay in a routine since Covid hit?

  • David Blacker

    September 8, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    I think exercise programs need to be individualised, but key elements include;

    1. Cardiovascular- probably including a high intensity component.

    2. Strength and resistance; with some weights

    3. Targeted specific movements to counter the key deficits; ie slow, limited range of arm and leg movements – to me boxing is the most logical exercise (and great fun!)

    4. Stretching; to help overcome increased tone from PD, and muscle soreness from exercise- yin yoga is great.

    I am currently developing a non-contact boxing exercise program in conjunction with a professional boxing coach, a neurophysiotherapist and exercise scientists, aiming to gather data on some of the important questions about dosage of exercise, timing, intensity, side effects and benefits. Whilst boxing feels great for PD, there is not a lot of good quality scientific data – our goal is  to build this data to create a safe, enjoyable and beneficial program.

    Watch out for the results next year of FIGHT-PD; Feasibility of Instituting Graduated High Intensity training for PD.

    David Blacker- Neurologist with PD

    Perth, Western Australia



  • Joel

    September 9, 2020 at 9:12 am

    “Forced exercise” is when the body is guided through the relevant movements, like being on the back seat of a tandem bicycle. Here is a study suggesting that it provides a particular benefit for PD patients: (must register for free with Medscape to read it). If you’d rather watch a 29-min video, this one is good:

    We bought an inexpensive mechanically-assisted pedal machine (i.e., turn it on, the pedals turn by themselves, the patient pushes along with the motor) for uncle (late stage PD) a couple of years ago, and it has pulled him out of approaching off periods many times, though like other interventions it does not bat 1.000.

    My guess—and that’s all it is—is that the mechanical guidance has a sort of reteaching effect on the neural pathways governing the movement. I’d further guess that it is more beneficial for those at later stages of PD, when the ability to initiate movement fades, and that more challenging exercise might be preferable at earlier stages.

  • Phil Gattis

    September 11, 2020 at 7:40 am

    Mine is similar to others’, especially David Blacker:

    3 times/week mixing up:

    • 20 min HIIT [high intensity interval training] cardio
    • 15 min resistance: sit-ups, push-ups, therapy band
    • 20 min power moves PWR!Moves
    • 10 min stretches

    Then I try to do a 4th time each week boxing with a heavy and a speed bag.  I’m really not good at the speed bag.

  • Michael R. Scott

    September 11, 2020 at 8:34 am


    Would you mind sharing your age and how long ago you where diagnosed with PD?

    Also, do you have any idea what caused or could have caused your PD?



  • donboop

    September 15, 2020 at 10:47 am

    for PD patients is important to have their own routine, if they know what  are they doing they do not get confused and that gives them comfort zone and calm mind,  no mood swings. So whatever a particular order of exercises  they find comfortable to do I think it is ok.  My personal opinion to trigger dopamine release and pump the blood moderate cardio is most beneficial so if morning starts with cardio it keeps them motivated to do then  stretching and other less stressful activities

  • Jo S.

    September 15, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve tried a variety of exercise routines. I was doing a form of aerobic yoga prior to my diagnosis, along with jumping/bouncing on a rebounder (mini trampoline) and walking. I later tried Rock Steady boxing, which I enjoyed, but then Covid-19 came along and the virtual boxing classes just didn’t do it for me. So I switched over to a couple of Alexander Tressor’s ( workouts on YouTube (which I highly recommend), still keeping up with daily walks and the rebounder (using light weights). But, last week, I was up for a change, and wouldn’t you know it … I went back to my original aerobic yoga (along with walking and the rebounder with weights). So I guess the moral of my individual story is … the most effective exercise routine for PD is the one you like and will stick with (or go back to).

    • Alan M

      December 9, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      THANKS HEAPS for the You tube workout vid tip, Jo! I plan to check it out…

  • Phil Gattis

    September 16, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Mike Scott:

    I just had my 70th birthday last Sunday.  15 months diagnosed.  I exercised regularly for years, long before diagnosis.  Since diagnosis, it’s become much more important for me.

    Phil Gattis

  • Phil Gattis

    September 16, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Mike Scott:

    As to causes, there are 2 contenders.  PD is presumptive for the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune water pollution scandal, for which I’m perfectly qualified.  Also, since that exposure, I sprayed many types of paint and coatings with bad organic solvents, for which I didn’t use sufficient protection.  Camp Lejeune started PD, and the other chemicals moved it right along.


  • Michael R. Scott

    September 16, 2020 at 10:45 am


    Thanks! Part of my probable cause goes back to my Military Days also! US Army Airborne (Special Forces: 1963-1973 Active & NG). If you knew any “Recon. Marines”, we all eventually ended up getting concussions mostly from those night jumps!? Then a number of hazmat exposures both Military and Civilian as I became a Firefighter/Paramedic while going to College! I’m 74 and, like you, have followed a 3 times a week gym routine from 16-now (Had to get strong enough to pass the Airborne and SF qualification tests in advance of Induction to be assured posting back then)! Interesting how many of us (Marines, SF, Rangers, Seals and Recon. ), tried to stay “close to that line in the sand” from the day they discharged us through the rest of our lives! Luckily that level physical fitness has slowed our decline relative to the rest of the PD population as per a recent Federal Study!



  • Andrew L.

    September 18, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    OK will chime in…Bike 20 miles 3x per week on lifecycle. Takes me about 75 minutes and I do cognitive exercises at same time (when indoors obviously) utilizing ALZ life program on I pad (my own clinical trial, so to speak). Have gotten really good at Sudoku , haha.  Take the cycling outdoors with the sunrise on the weekends (afraid of COVID and traffic other times.)Was biking every day at high resistance indoors for awhile but pain in hips too much, so had to lower resistance.  Do 100 pushups/ day 5 days per week. Just started ab workouts every day for 10 min with you tube video popular with my kids (Chloe someone). Do PD warrior work outs (also out of Australia) about 45 min 2-3x per week  (mostly big moves, agility and balancing stuff with a little cognitive thrown in). Box 3 or more times per week for about 45-60 minutes a shot. Have a great Rock steady instructor, classes are virtual if anyone interested. Lift free weights a few times per week (nothing major) and do a gentle yoga program for 30 min about 4x per week usually at night. Prior to COVID was playing tennis (played most of my life) and pickleball, hope disease stays relatively stable so can return to it one day (hope/praying/working hard to keep balance  stable). My neurologist thought I was overdoing it and told me to cut back to (2) one hour  exercise sessions twice a day, but probably do closer to 3 hours per day on average.

  • Luke Barrett

    September 24, 2020 at 9:18 am

    I totally agree with these previous posts- the 3 major components that need to be emphasized in a workout routine should be..

    1) Strength – Getting stronger helps improve posture, balance, prevents many injuries (increases tissue tolerance levels, improves joint stability, helps absorb higher forces, increases bone density, etc), and strength training also actively trains the central nervous system by improving neuromuscular efficiency which is imperative when fighting a neuromuscular disorder like PD.

    2) Cardiovascular/respiratory or endurance – This improves heart health and respiratory function, as well as increases the amount of physical output you can do before you fatigue.  This training also burns many calories which can help with burning fat or weight maintenance/loss.

    3) Mobility (‘usable flexibility’) – This is improving your active (or usable) range of motion around each joint.  This will help you move more efficiently and help avoid injuries.

    I run boxing classes in NYC (now virtual classes) for PD and boxing has been great at covering most of these modes of training.  We also do other exercises in classes for what boxing may lack (such as strength or posture).

    I started making some youtube videos for the PD community once covid hit for people struggling to find workout options while avoiding public places.  Anyone is welcome to follow these videos for free..

    I also started teaching live Parkinson’s exercise/boxing classes virtually for the same reasons.  Anyone is always welcome to join us…

    Stay active, strong,  and healthy.

  • cass

    December 7, 2021 at 9:37 am

    I was doing great before covid – Y gym membership.  Now I’m such an under-achiever, especially compared to you folks!!  Reading these regimens might just shame me into getting my act together.

  • Charles H Levin

    December 7, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    I agree with most of these posts …

    Cardio … 4x a week … I use an elliptical and go 30 continuous minutes at 80-85 percent of my max heart rate … I monitor it with an Apple Watch … my doc (head of dept. at Cedars in LA) stressed this and hitting those numbers …

    Strength … 3x a week about 30 minutes … combination of TRX and dumbbells

    Flexibility … Yoga, 20-30 minutes every day …

    I also do Neuro-boxing 3x a week … developed by Jennifer Parkinson, a nurse who got hit with early onset at roughly 32 … she studied the Rock Steady program and developed her own that can be tailored to people with stroke, TBIs or MS or other neurodegenerative disorders … I believe U. of Indiana Med School has compiled a lot of good and supportive data on Rock Steady …

    Dancing … my girlfriend is a longtime pro dancer and we do salsa lessons intermittently … lots of studies showing the benefits for PD of these kinds of movement studies (dance, tai chi, etc.) …


    • Alan M

      December 9, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      Wow, sounds like you’ve got this fitness / exercise regimen suss’ed, Charles!

      I could take a huge lesson from your diary. Alan

    • Andy Fletcher

      January 20, 2022 at 1:59 pm

      Charles: As I do Rock Steady I would love to hear how Jennifer Parkinson modified the Rock Steady program for her own needs.

      Andy Fletcher

    • Ally

      January 20, 2022 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Charles, your level of physical activity is amazing and certainly motivating to read about. I’m also interested in learning more about neuro boxing. Thanks for mentioning it.

  • Ron MacKenzie

    December 9, 2021 at 10:07 am

    I stretch with my TRX apparatus, and then walk/run for about half an hour. I alternate the walk/run every 50/100 meters, using telephone poles as my guide. Then it’s coffee time.

    • Alan M

      December 9, 2021 at 3:21 pm

      Geez, do I feel like I don’t have a clue [after reading many of the responses]. I think I resonate with my namesake Ron, mostly. Since learning I have PD, I purchased a treadmill [several months ago]. And I walk up/down stairs every day.

      I’m wondering if age at diagnosis makes any difference as to what people find most beneficial? I used to be a Forester in Canada. I regularly sprinted up 120% – 150% slopes daily. Cardiov speaking, I was once a specimen of fitness (in my late 20’s, 30’s and 40’s). I frequented the gym three times a week back then. Sadly, my knees and lower back gave out (due to wearing caulk boots for so many years). Three knee surgeries later and my health declined drastically! I didn’t listen to my Physio either… my bad.

      My training and career since then has me “flying a mahogany bomber”. Since holding down a desk job and sitting in a therapist chair, my health has gone to pot. Now, when I need to exercise most, and physical / mental health depends on it, I find I’m quite unmotivated. What to do?

      • Jeffery Hill

        December 9, 2021 at 6:51 pm

        Hi Alan,

        If you don’t already have one, consider getting a dog.  I mean a really active dog.  I got an Australian Shepherd.  She demands at least 3 hours of work a day. I’m averaging 13,000 steps a day.  Just need to supplement with some high intensity cardio, weights and stretching.

  • Alan M

    December 9, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Awesome idea, Jeffrey. I rent a house in New Plymouth and finding rentals that allow pets (particularly dogs) is a big bummer!

  • Clive Varejes

    December 15, 2021 at 12:40 am

    I do weight training at gym 2-3 times a week, specifically depending on how lazy I am.

    Cycle twice a week, as I live in Cape Town across the road from the beach and promenade, it makes it a pleasant and easy going ride. No competitions or anything like that.

    I have also taken up golf, and am really too bad at it to curse when I play a bad shot, which happens fairly often.



    • Ally

      January 20, 2022 at 7:19 pm

      Hi Clive, fellow golfer here 🙂 though I’m also not great and rarely keep score after the first few holes. I just enjoy the time outside. Cape Town sounds like a lovely place for a bike ride.

  • Louis Comitini

    December 16, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    Love to see all the exercise programs and responses.  I was diagnosed over 3 years ago at 55 years old in  2018, no tremors but difficulty walking at times during the day and wat too much anxiety, and worse in the morning and so I’m guessing these are my off periods.  I try to jog 3 to 4 times a week (3 to 5 Kms per jog ( aprox–2 to 3 miles)  during the spring summer and fall, winter rarely as you can imagine the snow up here in Montreal, Canada is brutal at times :-).  I made a make shift gym in my garage.

    Trainer twice a week 1 1/2 hours basically stretching, balance exercises, cardio, coordination drills and the best is Boxing for a half hour, after that I’m exhausted for a few hours, but I feel great afterwards for the rest of the day!

    Trying to do as much as I can as I still work at the office 4 to 5  hours a day!

    Love to hear from you all, were all in this together!

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they could find something other than exercise to help slow and or stop this annoyance of PD?

    Best of health and happiness to all of you

    Louis Comitini


    Spin bike 3 times a week for 15 to 20 minutes.  Treadmill 2 to 3 times a week both for 15 to 20 minutes.  Crappy disease at times but we all have to try to stay positive! 🙂


    Trainer twice a week, he’s absolutely fantastic

  • Andy Fletcher

    January 20, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Hi: I am a brand new member here. Everyone has varied exercise routines which shows we have many options. I started Rock Steady Boxing in May 2019. This programs includes several rounds of boxing with a heavy bag, circuit training, core and warmup, cooldown. We get cardio and strength training in this workout. It is also supposed to help with reconnecting the brain to different parts of the body. The goal always is to slow the progression of PD.

    I also work out with a personal trainer twice per week and this incorporates mostly strength training. In summer when outside more I add walking and cycling to the overall weekly goal.

    Andy Fletcher

  • Margie Baas

    January 20, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    I love the treadmill at the gym and the weight machines.

    I ride a recumbent bike at home and walk outside when weather permits.  I use walking poles. The workout is much more strenuous  with the poles. The poles are pretty cheap on Amazon.

    I also do some excerices found on line.

    I have only known  that i  have PD about 3 months ago. I was doing almost the same routine before i found out.

    The only exciser info i got from my doctor was ride a bike.

    So many of the exceries i want to do are limited due to other health issues.

  • Judith

    January 20, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Great posts everyone   Note to Jeffrey Hill…I am awe of your cardio program– most impressed. I went back to the YMCA after covid and was shocked that my safe maximun heart rate did a nose dive so much so that I had to stop at 90 bpm after 4 minute workouts.   Six months later I can go comfortably at about 100 bpm for 30 minutes on the bike.   I am elderly with advanced Parkinsons and have many off periods.  My question is, ‘Should I quit while I am ahead”.  heart appears to be in great shape, neurologist said just do what you can.              Is it dangerous sometime to just push too far….I do 10 hours a week at the Y.  Thanks in advance for any advice.  Happy New Year to all!  Judy G

    • Ally

      January 20, 2022 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Judith. Reading your post was really energizing for me! I’m happy to hear you spend 10 hours/week at the gym and haven’t let a COVID hiatus slow you down. What are some of your favorite ways to get active?

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