The Benefits of Exercise for PD

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone.  When you have Parkinson's disease (PD) exercise is as important as taking your medications on time, every time.  Exercise helps to maintain strength, flexibility,  balance, and cognitive acuity so you can continue to do the things you have to do and the things you love to do.

These resources will help you understand what research has shown about the impact exercise has on PD symptoms and how you should exercise to reap the most benefit.


Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Expert-level Resources


Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Exercise for Parkinson’s, Recommendations for Managing Symptoms

Published by the Brian Grant Foundation

This 8-page booklet (PDF) includes an overview of exercise for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a word on PD exercise research, safety considerations, recommendations PD exercise, PD exercise principles, a table of PD symptoms and suggested movement and activities to help manage them, and links to Exercise for Parkinson’s Training for Professionals and to free online exercise videos.


Exercise for Parkinson’s Disease: Essential Facts for Patients

Published by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), 2016

This 1-page fact sheet (PDF) explains briefly why exercise is important for those with Parkinson’s, including the benefit to thinking and memory, strength, balance, gait and posture.  It also lists some exercises recommended for those with PD.


Fitness Counts

By Heather Cianci, PT, MS, GSC.  Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), 2006

This 51-page manual (PDF) describes exercise methods that contribute to stability and includes photos to demonstrate proper form. Additional sections cover complementary therapies and partner assisted exercise.
En Español: Enfermedad de Parkinson: Estar en Forma Cuenta


Online Articles

Exercise

By the Parkinson’s Foundation

Exercise is a vital to maintaining balance, mobility and activities of daily living.  It can improve many PD symptoms.  This webpage discusses what type of exercise is beneficial, challenges to exercising and tips for getting started, including contact information for the Parkinson’s Foundation’s helpline to find an exercise class near you.


Why You Should Try PD-Specific Exercise Classes

By Suzanne Drolet.  Published by PD Active, October 24, 2017

This webpage lists five reasons PD-specific exercise classes are worth considering for those diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. What form of exercise you choose is not as important as moving as often as you can for as long as you can.


Podcasts & Webinars

5 Essentials of Exercise for PD

By Daily Dose PD

This 12 minute video explains the 5 keys research shows are most important for exercise to benefit those with Parkinson's Disease.  


Ask the MD: Exercise and Parkinson’s

By the Michael J Fox Foundation, May 22, 2017

In this 3-minute video, Dr. Rachel Dolhun discusses the benefits of physical activity for both motor and non-motor symptoms, which exercise regimen is best, and that research continues into the effect of exercise in Parkinson's disease.


The Effects of Exercise on PD

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, January 13, 2015

In this 1-hour webinar physical therapist Margaret Schenkman discusses the importance of exercise and activity for living well with PD, current evidence and gaps in knowledge concerning exercise and activity benefits, and evidence suggesting vigorous activity might have neuroprotective benefits.


Exercise and Attitude

By Coach Me Strong

This page has two videos of Sherrie Gould, NP speaking about exercise.  The shorter video (14 minutes) is about the benefits of exercise for those with PD.  The longer video (45 minutes) is about exercise and attitude.

Information about the Coach Me Strong Parkinson's exercise coaching program can also be found on this page.  Members of Coach Me Strong receive a daily workout from their coach that incorporates exercise you already do for PD.  This provides structure and accountability for a monthly fee.


Exercise and PD

By the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, January 8, 2020

In this 1-hour webinar panelists discuss the latest research showing the best way for those with PD to exercise, how often and when to exercise, establishing an exercise routine around PD obstacles, the importance of social interaction on mood and exercise motivation, the effect of exercise on PD prevention, daily symptoms, and disease progression, how PD exercise studies are done, the neuroplastic effect of exercise on motor learning and the handling of dopamine in the brain, and exercising safely.


Exercise strategies to Combat the Symptoms of PD

By UCSF Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center, May 20, 2017

This 36-minute lecture by Catherine Printz, PT, DPT, NCS, includes an overview of what research shows is the benefit of exercise to those with PD, how to determine which exercise is best for you, commonly asked questions in her physical therapy clinic and solutions to address common mobility problems.


Exercises to Prioritize When You Have Parkinson's Disease

By Invigorate Physical Therapy & Wellness, May 7, 2019

In this 16-minute YouTube video doctor of physical therapy, Sarah King, shares that at least two studies have demonstrated daily exercise slows the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD).  Dr. King summarizes from those studies how often and how vigorously those with PD should exercise in order to benefit.  Dr. King then describes how to prioritize the exercises you've been given by a physical therapist, those specific to PD, and those you just enjoy, depending on individual needs.


How to Exercise With Parkinson’s

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, November 21, 2018

Episode 108 of the Parkinson’s Podcast is a 30-minute interview with Dr. Jay Alberts, a biomedical engineer at the Cleveland Clinic and founder of Pedaling for Parkinson’s.  Dr. Alberts found riding a tandem bike with someone who has no PD results in brain changes, minimizing symptoms (smell, tremor, manual dexterity).  Any exercise that increases the quantity and quality of information to the brain (e.g. cycling, boxing, dancing and other exercises that require timing, coordination, speed, etc.) should result in the same symptomatic improvement.


My Parkinson's Story: Exercise 

By the Veteran's Administration

This 9-minute video alternates between an interview with a man and his wife, the man's neurologist and Parkinson's researcheers. The man and his wife share how he was freezing and falling daily until he began exercising regularly. Researchers explain how exercise helps by prevention, compensation and neuoplasticity. Regular exercise for strengthening, cardiovascular fitness, stretching, agility and balance have as powerful an effect on fluidity of movement as Parkinson's medications.


The Neuroplastic Effects of Exercise

By PMD Alliance, July 17, 2020

In this 1-hour webinar, speaker Giselle Petzinger, MD, a movement disorder specialist focuses on the role exercise plays in promoting neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new connections and pathways, and how this strengthens cognitive and automatic components of motor control. 
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog


Optimal Exercise Strategies for Stability, Stamina and Strength

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, January 21, 2020

In this 1-hour webinar Joellyn Fox, DPT, discusses the impact PD has on strength, endurance and balance and shares which specific exercises can improve each domain.  [Registration is required, but is free.]
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog


Expert-Level Resources

Parkinson's Disease Journal Article Recommendations

By APDA National Resource Center for Rehabilitation at Boston University 

This webpage lists the best medical research on the management of PD symptoms through exercise. Note that the center offers a tollfree “exercise helpline” where callers can speak with a licensed physical therapist. Available Monday to Friday, 9am-3pm (Boston time) at 888-606-1688 or rehab@bu.edu.



Last updated August 2020 by Stanford's Parkinson's Community Outreach.