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)

Be Active & Beyond: A Guide to Exercise and Wellness for People with Parkinson's Disease

Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association, 2017

This 36-page booklet outlines the importance of exercising for those with PD, discusses barriers to exercise and how to overcome them, distills exercise guidelines from several organizations into a quick reference chart for those with PD, provides information on exercise basics and how to get started along with specific exercises to increase endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance, and an exercise log to keep track of progress.

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), 2021

This 68-page manual (PDF) provides general exercise information and suggestions for people living with PD to help increase fitness level and improve ability to do everyday activities.  It also includes resources and information for exercise professionals, physical and occupational therapists about treatment options for people with PD.
Read online, download the e-book, or order a physical copy.
En Español: Enfermedad de Parkinson: Estar en Forma Cuenta

Online Articles


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.

Brain and Brawn: Combining Cognitive Training with Exercise

By American Parkinson Disease Association Northwest, November 19, 2021

Nate Coomer, DPT, speaks for an hour about the relationship between cognition and exercise.  He summarized several research articles to demonstrate that a) exercise improves cognition functioning, and b) cognitive function is necessary for mobility.  Therefore, just getting physically stronger isn't enough.  You must train cognition to maintain or improve mobility.

Davis Phinney and Kelsey Phinney Practice Vocal Exercises for Parkinson's

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, April 15, 2020

In this 23-minute episode of The Parkinson's Podcast, Davis Phinney and his daughter and podcast host, Kelsey Phinney, practice and explain some vocal warmup exercises before Davis sings a few pop songs.  Davis's voice gets louder and clearer over the course of the session and is a good demonstration of the benefit of speech therapy and daily practice of speech exercises, including singing, for those with Parkinson's.

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 as Medicine

By PD Active, October 16, 2021

In this one hour, twenty minute webinar movement disorder specialist Nijee Luthra, MD, explains that there is ample evidence that exercise is preventative for everyone; fending off cardiovascular disease, falls and fractures, depression, lonliness, and back pain.  Dr. Luthra answers questions throughout her talk and offers specific examples in which exercise is compensatory and neuroprotective for people with Parkinson's.

Exercise for Parkinson's Disease - Understanding Exercise Intensity & Forced Exercise

By ParkinsonFIT, July 8, 2019

This 26-minute talk explains exercise for Parkinson's Disease, specifically how exercise intensity is measured, and understanding the concepts of vigorous exercise and forced exercise

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.

FAQ About Exercise and Physical Therapy

By American Parkinson Disease Association Northwest, May 23, 2023

Guest speaker Teresa Baker, PT, DPT, spends the first 20 minutes in this episode of Let's Keep Moving With APDA answering some of the most common questions about physical therapy as a treatment for PD symptoms as well as some of the challenges she most frequently sees among PD patients. She then spends the last 15 minutes answering audience questions.

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.

Meaningful Physical Activity for Those Impacted by Parkinson's Disease

By APDA Upper Midwest Chapter, November 20, 2020

On the Day 2 video of the Upper Midwest Parkinson's Symposium, at timestamp 1:31, you will find a one-hour talk by Dr. Kristin Pickett, PhD.  She explains the difference between occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT).  She believes those diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) should have PT, OT and speech therapy as part of their care team early on.  Especially if you hate "exercise," you can incorporate physical activity/movement into your everyday tasks.  This is what she means by "meaningful physical activity."

Motivation and Parkinson's

By PMD Alliance, March 5, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar movement disorder specialist James Morley, MD, PhD, shares what he has learned in studying the impact of motivation and attitude on life after a Parkinson's diagnosis. One of Dr. Morley's patients and study participants, James Creveling, joins the conversation to share his experience of how to chase and bolster the motivation needed to exercise, cope, and live well with Parkinson's.
Webinar Notes on the stanford PD Community Blog.

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

Self Motivation Tips

By PD-Connect, October 2, 2023

In this 1-hour webinar Eric Egli, PhD, addresses the issue of getting yourself to do something you never wanted to do before (exercise), now that its harder with PD. He addressed legitimate barriers to exercise and shared a Stages of Change model that includes specific steps to success. The last 15 minutes are spent answering listener questions.

Spotlight on Parkinson's Disease: Getting Ready to Move

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, July 10, 2019

In this 1-hour webinar Terry Ellis, PhD, PT, shares the US HHS exercise guidelines.  She briefly explains the benefit of exercise on the quality of life for those with Parkinsons, why people are resistant to exercise, and what motivates people to exercise, before sharing tips and tricks for successfully integrating exercise into daily life.  The last 20 minutes are spent answering listener questions.

Spotlight on Parkinson's Disease: Staying Healthy, Keeping Fit

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, March 29, 2018

In this 45-minute webinar Terry Ellis, PhD, PT, shares which Parkinson's (PD) symptoms are reduced by what types of exercise, the intensity of exercise required to have an impact on PD symptoms, how to overcome resistance to exercising, and tips for implementing an effective exercise routine.  In the last 15 minutes of the webinar Dr. Ellis answers listener questions.

Spring into Exercise: Put Your Best Foot Forward

By APDA Massachusetts, March 16, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar features three physical therapists with expertise in Parkinson's. Tim Nordahl began by talking about the importance of walking and tips for getting the most out of walking.  Teresa Baker talked about the benefits of intense exercise for those with Parkinson's and how to know if you are exercising intensely enough.  Tami DeAngelis then spoke about putting your exercise knowledge into practice, what affects your motivation to exercise, and tips for getting yourself to exercise.  The last 10 minutes are questions from listeners.

Expert-Level Resources

LSVT-BIG Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease: Physiological Evidence for Proprioceptive Recalibration

By BMC Neurology, 2020, vol. 20, pg. 276

This small study demonstrates that LSVT-BIG training may achieve a recalibration of proprioceptive processing in people with Parkinson's Disease (PD). Results indicate a probable physiological mechanism of a symptom-specific, amplitude-based behavioral intervention in people with PD.

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

Last updated August 2022 by Stanford's Parkinson's Community Outreach.