How regular physical exercise can help people living with Parkinson’s enjoy a full and active life
If you or a loved one have had a Parkinson’s diagnosis, then finding the right exercise regime is crucial for helping you cope in the months and years ahead.
At the last estimate (2020) there were around 145,000 people in the UK living with Parkinson’s, and one in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's in their lifetime. It is the second most common neurological disorder, but with more than 40 symptoms Parkinson's will affect everyone differently, and not everyone will experience all the symptoms.
Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement, balance, and coordination. Exercise is being increasingly recognised as an important component of managing Parkinson's and improving your overall quality of life. Both water-based and land-based physical exercises can be beneficial: different exercises offer unique advantages, and a combination of both can be even more effective.
1. Buoyancy: Water provides buoyancy, which reduces the impact on joints and muscles. This is especially helpful for people living with Parkinson's who may have stiffness and muscle rigidity, as it allows for more fluid movements.
2. Balance: Water provides resistance, which can help improve balance and stability. People living with Parkinson's often struggle with balance issues, and water can provide a safe environment to work on these skills.
3. Muscle Relaxation: The warm water in pools can help relax muscles and alleviate the muscle tension, tremors and spasms that are common in Parkinson's sufferers.
4. Increased Range of Motion: The resistance of water can help improve your flexibility and range of motion, making it easier for you to move your limbs more freely.
5. Social Interaction: Group water exercise classes can provide social interaction and support, which is important for your mental and emotional wellbeing.
1. Strength Training: Land-based exercises, such as gentle weightlifting and resistance training, can help strengthen muscles that may weaken due to Parkinson's. This can improve your overall mobility and stability.
2. Cardiovascular Fitness: Activities like walking, jogging, or cycling can improve cardiovascular fitness, which is important for overall health. Improved cardiovascular fitness can also indirectly benefit motor function and reduce fatigue.
3. Co-ordination and Balance: Specific exercises that target balance and coordination, such as yoga or tai chi, can be especially helpful for individuals living with Parkinson's. They can help reduce the risk of falls and improve posture.
4. Neuroplasticity: Exercise has been shown to promote neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to adapt and rewire itself. Regular exercise may help the brain to compensate for some of the neurological changes associated with Parkinson's.
5. Mood and Cognitive Benefits: Exercise can release endorphins, which can help improve your mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety often associated with Parkinson's. It may also have cognitive benefits too, such as improved learning, problem-solving and memory function.
How Mobility Therapies can help
I am a qualified Parkinson’s Exercise Professional and I help people living with Parkinson’s improve their mobility, balance, and co-ordination. I will design an exercise programme based around your personal circumstances that will include a mix of gentle land- and/or water-based activities to help relieve your symptoms and keep you active and independent.
Overall, both water and land-based exercises can be valuable components of a comprehensive approach to managing Parkinson's, helping to improve physical function, mental well-being, and overall quality of life.
No matter what stage you’re at, and even if you haven’t tried any form of exercise yet, it’s not too late to start now! Just two-and-a-half hours of exercise a week will go a long way to decrease your pain and improve your motor skills.
Before starting any exercise program, you should consult your GP or other healthcare provider to ensure that your chosen exercises are safe and appropriate for your condition. It's also important to work with qualified instructors like me, who have experience working with Parkinson's patients, to ensure exercises are performed correctly and safely.
Mobility Therapies is dedicated to keeping you moving with ease. I use a holistic approach to help you achieve long-term wellness and improve your physical and mental health.
If you’d like to know more about my mobility therapy services designed specifically for people living with Parkinson’s, please get in touch.
You can also find more help and support for living with Parkinson’s from the following organisations: