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Exercise can be an important part of your plan to manage Parkinson’s disease. It provides physical and mental benefits to enhance your overall well-being and quality of life.

Certain types of exercise are particularly helpful to build strength, improve balance, and develop better posture. You can also improve your mobility and range of motion, making daily life easier.

Read on to learn which exercises can help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how to do them correctly.

There are several types of exercises you can do to manage Parkinson’s disease. You can create a varied routine based on your specific concerns, fitness level, and overall health.

Aim to do at least a few minutes of movement each day. Include exercises that improve cardiovascular health, flexibility, and strength. If you change up your exercises every week. your body can learn new ways to move.

There are a few different types of exercise that may be especially helpful to those with Parkinson’s, including:

  • physical and occupational therapy
  • yoga
  • aerobics

Next, we’ll walk you through specific exercises you can try in each of these categories.

Physical therapy exercises target your areas of concern. They can help develop your strength, balance, and coordination. You’ll also enhance your functional mobility by improving concentration, flexibility, and range of motion.

Occupational therapy exercises are intended to help you perform daily activities related to work, school, or home with greater ease.

Single leg stand

This exercise helps to improve standing balance and ability to walk. It also develops steadiness, strength, and confidence.

For support, rest your hands on a wall or the back of a chair.

  1. Place your weight on your less dominant leg.
  2. Slowly lift your opposite foot from the floor.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds. Try to use your arms as little as possible for balance.
  4. Lower your foot to the floor.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Wrist curls

Hand exercises help to increase steadiness, reduce tremors, and improve finger and hand dexterity.

For this exercise, use a dumbbell that’s 1 to 5 pounds.

  1. Place your left hand and wrist over the edge of a table with your palm facing up.
  2. Hold the weight in your hand.
  3. Slowly move your wrist up as far as you can.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Do 1 to 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

Yoga exercises develop balance, improve flexibility, and enhance concentration. They also help with body awareness mindfulness. Yoga has a positive effect on breathing, and it helps to promote relaxation.

A small 2018 study found that people with Parkinson’s disease who did yoga twice weekly for 8 weeks significantly reduced their fall risk compared to the control group. The yoga group also showed improvements in posture stability, as well as functional and freezing gait.

Child’s pose (Balasana)

This gentle forward bend relieves mental and physical tiredness and promotes a sense of inner calm. It also loosens up your hips, thighs, and ankles. Plus, it relieves back tightness and discomfort.

For extra support, place a cushion under your forehead, torso, or bottom.

  1. Sit back on your heels with your knees together or slightly apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips to fold forward.
  3. Extend your arms in front of you or rest your arms alongside your body.
  4. Place your forehead on the floor or a cushion.
  5. Relax deeply, letting go of any tension in your body.
  6. Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

This stamina-building pose improves balance while stretching and strengthening your body.

  1. From standing, step your left foot back and turn your toes to the left at a slight angle.
  2. Keep your right toes facing forward and open your hips to the side.
  3. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor, turning your palms down.
  4. Bend your right knee until it’s behind or above your ankle.
  5. Press into both feet, elongate your spine, and feel a line of energy moving from your front to back fingertips.
  6. Gaze ahead toward the tip of your middle finger.
  7. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Repeat on the opposite side.

Modifications:

  • Place a chair under your front thigh.
  • Position yourself alongside a wall, leaning into it as needed.
  • Lower your back knee to the floor.
  • Position your feet closer together.

Aerobic exercises improve flexibility, enhance mobility, and build strength. They boost your cardiovascular health and lung function while burning calories.

Research from 2020 points to the effectiveness of aerobic exercise in improving physical fitness and motor symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease. Larger, more in-depth studies examining the long-term benefits of aerobic exercise are needed.

No-contact boxing

This activity improves strength, speed, and agility. It also increases endurance, balance, and hand-eye coordination.

To learn no-contact boxing, join a class at your local fitness center, hire a private teacher, or try the moves described below.

Jab punches

  1. Stand with your feet under your hips, or slightly wider for better balance.
  2. Make fists and place them in front of your shoulders with your palms facing forward.
  3. Punch your left fist forward, extending your arm fully.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.
  6. This is one repetition.
  7. Do 1 to 2 sets of 20 repetitions.

Combination punches

  1. Stand with your feet under your hips, or slightly wider for better balance.
  2. Make fists and place them in front of your shoulders with your palms facing inward.
  3. Punch your left fist upward, extending your arm fully.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Then punch your left fist across your body, extending your arm fully.
  6. Return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.
  8. This is one repetition.
  9. Do 1 to 2 sets of 20 repetitions.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes problems with movement. These can include shaking, stiffness, and issues with walking, balance, and coordination.

Parkinson’s disease can also lead to speech problems and side effects including depression, pain, and difficulty sleeping.

Parkinson’s disease affects the cells of the area of the midbrain known as the substantia nigra. This part of the brain produces dopamine and relates to reward and movement. Parkinson’s causes cells in the substantia nigra to die, which reduces dopamine levels and causes the onset of symptoms.

Regular exercise has a positive effect on those with Parkinson’s disease. There are many Parkinson’s disease exercise videos online, or you may choose to join a class in your area.

Talk with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program. They can recommend the best exercises for your needs and help you to find the right intensity, duration, and frequency of your sessions.

As always, listen to your body and honor the changes you experience daily. Go at your own pace, do what feels appropriate, and be easy on yourself.