Exercising with Parkinson’s: Increase Confidence in Movement

Although Parkinson’s Disease is classified as a neurological condition, this chronic and progressive condition affects much more than just the brain. With Parkinson's, body movement is affected to a high degree. People living with the disease know how difficult it can become to walk, balance on two feet, stand up straight, and coordinate movement - all of which impact day-to-day functioning and lower confidence in movement.

Exercising with Parkinson’s is the answer to more confidence in movement

Because Parkinson’s in progressive, the bad news is that symptoms frequently worsen with age. The good news is that regular low-intensity exercise goes a long way in improving Parkinson’s patients’ mobility issues, making it easier to continue living comfortably with age.

According to a study by the University of Maryland, a regular exercise program for seniors with Parkinson’s can “delay disability and help to preserve independence.” Specifically, an exercise program can increase control over motor skills - such as walking - and generate confidence in performing daily activities.

Although exercising with Parkinson's is one of the easiest, most practical ways to fight mobility issues, those suffering from the disease frequently fall into sedentary lifestyles due to a loss of confidence in movement, which makes the loss of flexibility, strength, and endurance worse.

Creating an Exercise Regimen for Parkinson's 

Help your loved one combat a sedentary lifestyle by increasing movement confidence through regular, varied exercise. Encourage regular physical activity for your loved one with Parkinson’s by using some of the following tips:

  • Make it social
    • Exercising with others encourages commitment to a regular exercise routine. In addition, seniors with Parkinson’s will feel more confident knowing that a friend or caregiver is there in case of a fall - often one of the greatest fears inhibiting regular exercise among Parkinson’s patients.
  • Set a timer
    • Stretching major joints for 20 seconds counteracts the rigidity and stiffness of Parkinson’s disease. To ensure the maximum benefit from stretching, set a timer and hold each position for 20 seconds - no exceptions! Apply the same discipline to aerobic exercise, starting with 5 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-5 times per week and increasing by 5 minutes every 2 weeks until you reach a maximum of 20 minutes per exercise period. Watch and feel proud as the number on the timer continues to increase!
  • Make it fun
    • Exercise doesn’t have to be mundane routine. Motivate your senior to move regularly by making it an activity to look forward to. Try listening to upbeat music as you move or trying a low-impact fitness class. In fact, recent research suggests that tai chi, yoga, movement to music, and walking are the most beneficial forms of exercise for those with Parkinson’s.
  • Do it daily
    • Incorporate regular movement into a daily routine outside of a designated 20 minute block by stretching during the evening news, cleaning the house, gardening, washing the car, or walking to the grocery store. These little accomplishments will help instill a sense of purpose and value back into daily routines, increasing confidence. In addition, daily habits that don’t interfere too much with established habits will be easier to incorporate and stick to.

If your loved one needs help performing daily tasks and sticking to an exercise routine, consider bringing a qualified care provider into your home. American In-Home Care always refers qualified, screened, care providers that are compassionate and ready to help. Contact us at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss which care options are right for you and your family.