Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is progressive in nature and currently the number 2 neurodegenerative disease behind dementia, with the highest prevalence found in those aged over 75 years. Those living with PD may exhibit a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Resting tremor.
  • Bradykinesia (slowing of movement – hence the importance of falls prevention exercises for those living with PD).
  • Muscle rigidity/stiffness.
  • Impaired postural righting reflexes (that is, impaired ability to correct posture/balance).
  • High level of cognitive energy for every task (leading to early fatigue).


Participation in structured exercise is imperative for those living with PD, however, it is crucial to understand that exercise as part of the treatment process will aid in slowing functional decline; it is NOT a cure. Some of the associated benefits those living with PD will gain from regular, structured exercise include:

  • Delay or reverse functional decline and disability in areas such as strength, balance, gait, flexibility and posture.
  • Improve mobility, decrease falls risk and decrease fear of falling.
  • Improve quality of life.
  • Aid maintenance/prevention of comorbidities and secondary chronic diseases.


Aside from the associated benefits of exercise, there are also several important considerations to be aware of when undertaking activity. If the individual is taking any prescribed medication it is vital to consult with your GP to determine the most appropriate time during the day to exercise, are there any associated side effects with the medication and remember to consult with your GP if medication dosage changes.

As those living with PD have decreased movement efficiency, resulting in high energy costs, these individuals tend to fatigue (both physically and cognitively) a lot faster than the general population. If the individual experiences severe changes with gait, avoid the treadmill, as this machine will continue to move unless programmed to stop/or emergency clip is attached to your clothing. As mentioned earlier, people living with PD already have compromised reflexes; therefore, using the treadmill could lead to falls and/or injury.

Some equipment suited to those living with PD includes the recumbent bike (bike with back support), up-right bike and the arm ergometer (‘Top’ machine). When performing strength training, it is important to tar-get muscles around the shoulder blades, back and bottom (to improve posture), use major muscle groups (to prevent muscle deterioration) and for those who suffer from tremors, be cautious when using hand weights as this could lead to dropping the weight and, therefore, injury.

WIN Health Mates Sling Bag & Pedometer valued at $31.

Answer 5 True or False questions and place your completed quiz in our feedback box by 26 May 2016 for your chance to win.

Download the May Quiz