Exercise and regular physical activity has been scientifically proven to offer beneficial effects for people living with Parkinson’s Disease. Maintaining active is important in order to manage the condition but to achieve this, people need to feel they are ‘able’ to participate in different forms of exercise and that comes from instructors with additional knowledge that ensure their sessions are inclusive and adaptable.

In this short blog, we highlight six effective exercises which are suitable for clients with Parkinson’s Disease.

  1. Circuit training is good for people in the early stages of Parkinson’s with mild symptoms when vigorous exercise is recommended. Stations such as pad work, ball throws against a wall, stationary cycling, squats, press-ups, shuttle runs, kettlebell rows, side steps and overhead reach will all benefit patients. Of course, circuit training can also be easily adjusted in terms of intensity and exercise choice as when the need arises.
  2. Agility exercises will improve control during movement and help those experiencing ‘freezing of gait’. Agility ladder training is a great exercise that can be adapted easily to suit different levels and stages of progression. For safety, you may consider methods just a drawing the ladder on the floor or using tape.
  3. Balance training is very important to prevent falls. Lateral leg lifts are a good balance challenge and can work on static and dynamic balance depending on your client’s level. The client shifts the weight onto one leg and lifts the other leg out to the side. More advanced clients can lean to the side (yoga half-moon) and less advanced can tap the toe out to the side or hold onto a chair.
    Various exercises can challenge balance so reflect on what you currently do and adjust as necessary.
  4. Strength training is very important to keep functional ability. The ‘independence’ muscles (quadriceps and glutes) are very important so use sit to stand or squats as an essential exercise for Parkinson’s Disease clients.
  5. Backward chaining is a method of getting on and off the floor where the client works backwards in stages to get onto the floor, practising each stage several times to build strength and confidence. This means they will then be able to get down to the floor and back up when needed. For images and more information on backward chaining click this link (external link)
  6. Stretching is essential for people with Parkinson’s to help with the rigidity that happens in the muscles and maintain mobility. Consider using forearm stretches to release wrist extensors and flexors alongside stretches for each of main muscle groups.

The benefits of being active on a daily basis are really supportive to maintaining independence and a good quality of life.

If this condition interests you, or maybe you already have some clients living with the condition, then look at our online 2 hour CPD seminar which explores this aetiology of this condition alongside an exercise prescription framework and considerations/contraindications to exercise. Details can be found here.