Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise

Exercise is important for people with Parkinson’s disease because it helps maintain balance, mobility, and the ability to perform daily routines.

Researchers have found that Parkinson’s patients who exercise at least 2 1/2 hours a week also experience a slower decline in their quality of life.

Which type of exercise is best?

Parkinson’s-related exercise should include activities that increase flexibility, such as stretching; aerobics; and either resistance or strength training.

The type of exercise that a person with Parkinson’s engages in is not as important as doing it regularly. Ask a physical therapist about the best type of exercise you can do without injuring yourself.

Different exercise programs pursue different fitness goals: balance and coordination, flexibility, endurance, and strength.

Examples of Parkinson’s-related exercise programs include:

  • Intensive sports training.
  • Treadmill training without body weight support.
  • Resistance training.
  • Aerobics.
  • Alternative exercises, such as yoga.
  • Home-based exercises.
  • Practicing movement strategies.

Benefits of exercise

Exercise can benefit people with Parkinson’s in two ways:

Symptom management — First, exercise reduces stiffness and improves mobility, posture, balance and gait. Besides increasing oxygen delivery and maintaining neurotransmitters to keep the heart, lungs, and nervous system healthy, exercise also helps reduce depression, stress, and anxiety.

Slow disease progression — Improved mobility decreases the risk of falling and other complications associated with Parkinson’s. Vigorous exercise, such as running or riding a bicycle, can ward off  changes in the brain caused by aging and Parkinson’s.

How does exercise affect the brain?

Researchers have studied the brains of mice that exercised under conditions similar to a human being on a treadmill. Exercise did not increase the number of neurons or amount of dopamine in mice’s brains. But it did prompt their brains to use dopamine more efficiently.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement and emotional response. Lack of it is associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

Some studies have indicated that exercise reduces the chance that dopamine neurons will become damaged.

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 other 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.