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Benefits of Exercise for Parkinson's Patients

There are different reactions to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

You may feel relief, because there is now an explanation for the symptoms you are experiencing, but there is also the reality of having to deal with a chronic, progressive disease.

I loved reading the comprehensive manual from the Davis Phinney Foundation:

This free manual is especially helpful to the newly diagnosed. It covers all aspects of PD and what you can do about each. It is informative, inspiring and motivating.

From the moment of diagnosis, it is essential that you start exercising several times a week – every day if possible. Everyone benefits from regular, diverse exercise, but PD causes the muscles to become tight or stiff. This, in turn, leads to poor posture, which throws off your balance. Less balance makes every day activities harder and harder, creating a cycle of inactivity. Working through a large and varied range of motion will keep you moving better longer – because when it comes to muscles, it you don’t use it, you lose it! In fact, you can delay and reduce problems related to stiffness by exercising on a regular basis.

Talk to your doctor about how and where to start exercising, but in general:

  • You can start off with 10 minute increments, 3 times a day if you aren’t already exercising

  • Strength, endurance, range of motion (flexibility), and aerobic or cardiovascular activities should all be part of your exercise regime. One session or exercise class may cover more than one of these elements.

  • Make an appointment with yourself every day to exercise. Write it into your schedule and stick to it. It is as important as your medications. In fact, there isn’t a single medication that can do all that exercise can: reduce the risk of heart disease, improve mood, fatigue, and sleep, build strength and endurance, and decrease stiffness.

Luckily, the Boston area hosts many exercise classes for people with PD. Check out what Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, also known a Beth Israel Lahey Health, has to offer. Click here to see class offerings.

Exercise classes : Classes are a great way to socialize and meet other people with PD as well as get your workout in. In fact, I teach 2 classes for Beth Israel Lahey Health's Wellness Works. Click here to see all the classes offered.

One-on-One Sessions: One-on-one's are more targeted to your specific needs. These are especially useful for those creating a new Parkinson’s exercise program, or tailoring their existing activities to a new diagnosis. I can come to your home to design and implement your program. For some, the convenience of exercising at home makes it easier to incorporate it into their schedule. The individual attention can also be inspiring because of the specific feedback you’ll get. I am an expert in the evaluation of muscle weaknesses or imbalances as well as in addressing them with specific exercises to build strength and maintain flexibility.

Last, but definitely not least, have fun exercising! Find a routine that works for you and make it fun. You’ll stick to it if you enjoy it.


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