Exercise Tips by Emeritus Professor Colleen Canning

Research clearly shows that exercise can reduce symptoms and may even slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

Why add exercise to your daily routine? 

Research clearly shows that exercise can reduce symptoms and may even slow the progression of Parkinson’s. High intensity exercise and exercise that challenges thinking and movement has been shown to have a direct impact on brain function.  Specific benefits include: 

  • Improved mobility relating to walking, standing and getting out of bed 
  • Improved balance to stay steadier on your feet and reducing falls 
  • Improved muscle strength to lift heavier loads 
  • Improved exercise capacity to do more and to keep going for longer 
  • Improved wellbeing and overall quality of life 

Emerging evidence also suggests that exercise may improve cognition, sleep and reduce fatigue, depression, pain and constipation. 

What type of exercise is best for you? 

Just like prescribing medication, exercise prescription must be appropriate to your stage of young onset Parkinson’s, your presenting symptoms and your specific exercise preferences and goals. 

The key is to challenge yourself both cognitively and physically.  

Consider your preference for exercise types and delivery methods, such as individual or group exercise. You may like to include a group session in your weekly schedule and benefit from the increased motivation and sense of connectedness with other group members. Exercise that you find enjoyable and meaningful is more likely to be effective.  

One size does not fit all. In the early stages of young onset Parkinson’s, you might like to explore exercise options in your local community such as tai chi, dance and boxing. 

As young onset Parkinson’s progresses, a consultation with an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist with experience in managing Parkinson’s is recommended. There may be hurdles to overcome, such as fear of falling, freezing of gait, apathy and fatigue, and strategies can be developed to manage these. 

How long should you exercise for? 

You should work towards exercise that is at least somewhat hard, for at least 30 minutes, on most days of the week. 

Exercise is as important as medicine, and you need a daily dose to optimise your health and wellbeing. 

With regular exercise, you will feel fitter stronger and more in control of your life. 

It is never too early or too late to start exercising!