10 Essential Components to a Parkinson’s Specific Exercise Program

  1. Rotational Movements: Movement patterns involving rotating at the trunk like in cross punching or raising your knee to the opposite elbow
  2. Reciprocal Movements: Such as coordinating reciprocal arm and leg movements like marching, or punching forward with reciprocal stepping
  3. Rhythmic Movements: Adding music or a beat to your exercises. Using things like a metronome app and marching or stepping to the beat of the metronome, or dancing to music
  4. Whole body, powerful, Movement Patterns: Movement patterns that are big such as lunging in different directions, opening your arms up over your head while stepping forward.
  5. Sequential Coordination: Persons with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) have difficulty with performing more than one thing at a time or shifting from one task to another. So, performing pre-planning tasks or combining two physical activities at time. For example, setting up an obstacle course having to move through and around tight spaces or combining squats with kettle bell swings.
  6. Cognitive Tasks (dual tasking): Adding in a cognitive task while exercising will challenge your brain and it also will incorporate the above by adding in a second task forcing you to perform more than one thing at a time. An example of this would be to list 10 types of fruit or solve a math problem, such as 8×7=?, while you are exercising.
  7. Voice Projection: Another symptom of PD is loss of voice projection or strength. This can go along with the cognitive tasks, because when you are listing your 10 fruits you need to say it as loud as you can.
  8. Flexibility: Stretching is one of the most important things you can do! It will minimize the effects of rigidity which is one of the most common symptoms of PD. Make sure you are stretching your chest, shoulders, hamstrings, hip flexors, calf muscles and hips.
  9. Balance: Start on a level surface and progress to an unlevel surface which will allow you to incorporate sensory integration. Sensory integration helps with communication between our senses and our muscles allowing us to adapt to changing conditions in the environment, like grassy surfaces)
  10. Strengthening: A strengthening program for all major muscle groups is important. However, strengthening the extensor muscles is of great importance for those with Parkinson’s Disease. It can help minimize the development of the classic stooped posture seen with PD. This stooped posture leads to weakness in the muscles of the back, core, and hips/gluts making it more difficulty to stand up straight.

If you are not sure where to begin, find a physical therapist or personal trainer who is experienced in Parkinson’s Disease. A physical therapist specifically trained in Parkinson’s disease has the skills to identify your particular needs and can develop a program tailored to your goals. At Thrive Physical Therapy and Wellness, we offer an evidenced-based program specifically designed for those with Parkinson’s disease and we also offer a one on one wellness program to support your needs throughout your journey. For more information about Parkinson’s Disease, you can also check out our blog on Parkinson’s Disease: Things You Should do Right Now.