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Parkinson's disease: How exercise helps

A seated woman stretches toward her toes as a small white dog pokes his head between her feet.

April 28, 2022—Physical activity is important for everyone's well-being. But it has special benefits for people with Parkinson's disease. And you don't need to embark on a rigorous training program to reap the rewards. Starting today, any exercise you do can make a positive difference.

Movement matters

Exercise helps you manage Parkinson's disease symptoms. According to the Parkinson's Foundation, it can help improve your:

  • Gait.
  • Balance.
  • Tremor.
  • Flexibility.
  • Motor coordination.

Physical activity may also help improve thinking and memory and reduce your risk of falls. It can improve your attention and concentration—and even boost the quality of your sleep.

Choose your move

What's the best kind of exercise for people with Parkinson's? Any exercise you can do without injury should help, from aerobic activity to resistance training.

Use your imagination and experiment to find the activity that brings you the most joy. According to the Parkinson's Foundation, tango dancing classes twice a week helped people with Parkinson's disease improve their motor symptoms, balance and walking speed.

There is no one exercise that works for everyone with Parkinson's disease. The main thing is to choose something you will actually do! Start today by following these tips:

  • Check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
  • Work with a physical therapist to choose what's best for you and get help to succeed.
  • Consider trying something new to add a challenge for your brain.
  • Remember that every activity counts, even movements around the house.
  • Use music to help coordinate your movements.
  • Include aerobic exercise, stretching and strength-building activities.
  • Consider working out with a partner so you can help motivate each other.
  • Make it a habit—aim for a consistent schedule.

Start with a stretch, and cool down properly

Stretching can improve flexibility and help prevent injury. But do you know how and when it's best to stretch? Check the facts with our stretching quiz.

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