10 Tips For Exercising With Parkinson’s

Senior woman lifts weight with help of instructor
  1. Exercise is medicine, so don’t miss a dose

    Exercise has been proven to build a healthier heart, lungs and muscles, boost metabolism, prevent diabetes and reduce disability. Research shows that exercise can slow many aspects of the physical decline of Parkinson’s and new research also suggests that exercise may even be neuroprotective – that is, slowing the progression of Parkinson’s in the brain.

  2. Be realistic – something is better than nothing

    There is no perfect one-size-fits-all exercise for people with Parkinson’s. Don’t wait. Start by walking around the block. Find a physical therapist who specializes in neurological disorders that can design an exercise program that is right for you.

  3. Have fun

    Consistency is critical and if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick with it. Do something you like. Dance, yoga, tai chi, cycling and strength exercises have been shown to help with physical and cognitive symptoms of Parkinson’s. Try exercising with a group. Research shows that people stick with exercise when there is encouragement and an expectation for you to show up.

  4. Break a sweat

    Movement only becomes exercise when it is done at an intensity that is high enough to be physically challenging. If you can carry a conversation with someone while exercising, you are not working hard enough. Research shows that it’s not the exercise, but the level of the intensity of the exercise, that may be the most beneficial.

  5. Do three major types of exercise

    Combine aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching for more significant improvements in daily function and quality of life. Do aerobic conditioning or cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes, three times per week; strength or resistance training for 30 minutes, three times per week and stretching or flexibility exercises daily.

  6. Start today, don’t wait

    The sooner after diagnosis you begin exercising, the greater your physical reserve and self-motivation are likely to be. Don’t wait for the disease to progress further or for problems to emerge. Start strong to stay stronger longer.

  7. Find an exercise buddy

    Exercise with people that have exercise goals and physical stamina similar to your own. Especially for people with young-onset Parkinson’s, exercising with peers may be more enjoyable, more motivating and more appropriate than finding a Parkinson’s-specific exercise group.

  8. Stick with it

    Stay motivated and see the positive effects you’ve worked so hard to achieve last longer.

  9. Exercise for your body and mind

    Exercise isn’t just good for your body. Other issues related to Parkinson’s – like depression, sleep and constipation can also be positively affected by exercise and activity.

  10. Use exercise to take control of your Parkinson’s

    Use exercise to create a better quality of life for yourself and manage your Parkinson’s. It is possible to live well with Parkinson’s today.

 Learn more about exercise and Parkinson’s 

Download our Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials video

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Comments (15)

Exercise is very important to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. If you want to live healthy with Parkinson’s do regular exercise. Exercise will improve your strength, balance, stability and peace of mind.

Hi there – This is a helpful tip. Thank you for sharing your opinion with our community.


Hi Rose – Thank you for sharing your feedback. To learn more about exercise, please visit our exercise page for more information. Feel free to email us at info@dpf.org should you have more questions.

I totally agree with this article. These 10 exercise tips for Parkinson’s would be useful to the body. Thanks for sharing this article!

Bernice Canterbury

My husband, 87, has had Parkinson’s for several years. Even though he “thinks” he can walk without his walker, his legs just keep getting weaker. He has had some physical therapy, he doesn’t seem to get better. He does not have the shaping of his hands. Any suggestions?

Bernice, it’s great your husband has taken the first step to being active with physical therapy. Often times, getting started can be the hardest part! Have you taken a look at out Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials DVD? It has a range of workouts designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s and can easily be modified based on your husband’s needs. The download is free! Be sure to let us know what your husband thinks.

Motivating Parkinson’s patients for doing exercise is little tough. I am talking about my grandmother. She is very indolent. She does a bit exercise daily and then gives up in less than a 5 minutes. But the good thing happening to her is that she is going to Rock Steady Boxing classes every day. Let’s see what positive will happen to her Parkinson’s symptoms.

Don’t forget that some exercise is better than nothing! Still, I’m glad to hear that your grandmother may have found her fit with Rock Steady Boxing. The Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials video is another great resource that she could try as well!

I was an avid bike rider in averaging 2000 miles a year. Being from the state of Iowa a good year is 8 or 9 months.
When I turned 65 in 2015 l not only wa losing the distance but also the speed.
Of course it was written of as old age but other things were happening that had nothing to do with my bike. Cramped writing , soft speech and job stress ,not being handled with the ease that it once was, slowly created into my life. Then a bike accident that broke my arm and required rotator cuff surgery set me back more. With rehab I was back to riding my bike but the speed was way low plus I was having balance issues and was falling regularly on my bike. In January I made an effort to find out what was wrong with me in hopes of fixing it and enjoy my life again. My doctor did an MRI on my head and said that shown that I had a TIA, a mini stroke. Well that explained it all I thought. Then I went to a news urgent and she noticed my arm swing was not napping and I had some tremors that she didn’t like either and ordered another brain M R I.
On Jan 24 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s . Since then I have retired and got rid of a lot of stress. I take spin class 3 times a week, left weights twice a week and do Tia Chi . And this week start a boxing class. I know I will never ride 2000 miles again but I also know with the support people I have and a good attitude I have many fun active years ahead of me.

Dennis, sometimes the road to a Parkinson’s diagnosis can be long and meandering. However, it’s great to hear that you’ve identified these resources in your community and have taken up such an active and healthy lifestyle. Exercise is a major component in living well with Parkinson’s and accompanying that with meditative practices like Tai Chi will help tremendously with strength, balance and peace of mind! Well done hope you enjoy Rocksteady Boxing!

I was officially diagnosed in April 2017. Upon my diagnosis, I found myself very unhappy. Luckily for me I have exercised for over 40 years. I work out in a gym and walk outside when I can. This has all helped by easing the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Exercise is tough to start but I had a head start and was already into it. Please read the posts. The benefits of exercise are numerous.

Thanks for your comment, Thomas. The good thing about exercise, is that it can at any time during the progression of Parkinson’s. However, the earlier you start exercising, the better!

My husband has Parkinson’s, post polio syndrome, diabetes, and has had shoulder replacement surgery. What ecercises can he do? He wears a long leg brace and lacks most of his rotator cuffs in his shoulder. His good leg had become very weak, and he walks with crutches. He had a lot of pain, but i feel exercise would still help him.

Kathy, it’s always recommended to consult a physical therapist if your husband has limited mobility and is experiencing pain. A PT will be able to create a customized exercise program catered to your husbands needs. Try to find a physical therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s since they will have a better understanding of symptoms and exercises that will help alleviate pain and rigidity. Watch a short video by Mike Studer about this topic by clicking this link.. Thanks for commenting!

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