Parkinson’s Fitness: Medical Based Exercise Programs

Parkinson's Fitness: Medical Based Exercise Programs

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neuromuscular disorder that is typically associated with older individuals. This disease is classically difficult to diagnose, as many of PD’s symptoms are the same as those of aging. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include difficulty in initiating movements (akinesia) and slowness and difficulty in maintaining movements (bradykinesia). Bradykinesia more often affects movements; however, it can also have an impact on speech and swallowing. Other common symptoms associated with PD include postural instability, which encompasses lack of balance and stooped posture as well as muscle tremors. The severity of symptoms tends to vary from patient to patient; not all individuals with PD experience all symptoms. Seeing as this disease is caused by a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine, there is a considerable amount of literature indicating that a moderate-intensity exercise program can be beneficial for these patients, due to the increase in dopamine levels that occur in response to exercise.

Our programs help you fight Parkinson’s through exercise and nutrition.

Our goal for aerobic conditioning is to find a non-stop activity that uses the entire body, working the heart and lungs as well as skeletal muscles. Research has shown a significant improvement of symptoms when riding a bicycle.

Strength training is also another important part of any exercise program, especially for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. In individuals with PD, strength training can not only help improve posture and stability but also help develop bone strength, decreasing the risk of fracture.

Stretching is another component of an exercise program that is important in clients with PD. Stretching combats rigidity, which is a primary symptom of PD, as well as increases flexibility, which can help in everyday movements. It can also help in improving range of motion, posture, and circulation and release muscle tension.

While aerobic conditioning, strength training, and stretching are all important factors that contribute to an effective exercise prescription, other components such as balance are important to work on in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Postural instability is one of the main symptoms of PD and it can be beneficial to your clients to add several exercises focusing on it to their fitness routines.

Exercise Programs

We focus on customized exercise goals to improve balance and stability, agility, cognitive awareness, and strength training by ability levels.

Clients “compete” against their Parkinson’s symptoms similarly to an athlete in training. They challenge themselves to consistently increase their endurance, strength, coordination and mobility goals through:

  • boxing
  • step hurdles
  • hand weights
  • agility ladders
  • Parkinson’s dance and yoga instruction
  • resistance bands
  • gymnasium ball throwing, kicking, passing
  • limb stretches
  • marching
  • rhythm walking
  • chair exercises
  • proper posture and body alignment
  • obstacle courses