The science is clear: exercise is clinically proven to significantly help people with Parkinson’s live well and manage their symptoms. This means it’s time to get moving! But exercise shouldn’t be a chore or a dreaded, though helpful, habit. You deserve to find your fitness groove, moving in ways that feel good to you and – dare we say it! – are even fun.
We asked Stacey Macaluso and Ali Zaman, the experts at Prime PD, a digital wellness and exercise studio for people with Parkinson’s, about the best exercises for movement disorders. Here are their pro picks:
1. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT is about riding the cardio rollercoaster. The key is to interchange short bursts of intense exercise where you give it your all with short periods of low-intensity rest. For example, this could mean cycling or jogging or even walking as fast as you can for a minute, followed by 30 seconds of a slower pace. The number of times you flow through the ups and downs of this workout roller coaster and the length of each interval can be tailored to you or your workout that day. The longer the workout, the more intense it is.
Benefits: Improved balance, better muscle control, enhanced cognition, reduced stiffness, and a boost in overall wellbeing.
Researchers have even found that HIIT stimulates nerve growth and function.
A boxing class is a full-body workout in a non-combat style. When tailored to people with Parkinson’s, it will typically include:
- Stretches and warm-up exercises to prepare the body and prevent injury
- Punching speed bags for coordination, heavy bags for strength, or shadow boxing for focus and rhythm
- Vocal exercises
- Footwork and other agility exercises for balance
- The uplifting power of socialization and community
Benefits: Increased strength; improved hand-eye coordination; better posture; a stronger core which may lead to a better gait; improved balance, agility, and reaction time; and better cognitive processing
Whether you’re looking to roll out a yoga mat and flow from the ground up or move from pose to pose from your chair, yoga is an adaptable practice that can benefit both your body and mind. While we often think of yoga as moving between a series of poses, or asanas, it’s part of a larger framework that includes philosophy, chanting, and selfless service.
Benefits: Yoga visibly reduces tremors, improves the steadiness of your gait, increases balance, eases anxiety, builds strength, improves confidence, and promotes peace, relaxation and better sleep.
Show off your moves! Dance classes invite you to experience the joys and benefits of music and movement while creatively addressing a range of symptoms, from balance to cognition, motor skills, depression, and physical confidence. Classes often include stretching, breath work, coordination, and movement flows.
Benefits: Develop strength, fluidity, flexibility, stamina, and balance. Improve cognition.
5. Tai Chi/Qigong
Create harmony with tai chi and qigong (pronounced ‘chi kung’). These gentle exercises use slow, fluid movements with deep breathing to improve your wellbeing in body and mind.