Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive disease that affects the neurological systems of the brain and body. The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. The most obvious symptoms of PD are, but not limited to:
– rigidity at the muscles and joints,
– slowness of movement and reaction time,
– stooped posture/forward leaning posture,
– losing sense of balance
– difficulty walking/shuffling gait
The cause of PD is generally unknown and there is currently no cure, with treatments directed at improving symptoms only.
Besides medical treatment, exercise is highly recommended for people suffering with PD. Regular exercise such as strength training, cardio and other exercise programs such as balance drills, co-ordination exercises and stretches can be beneficial to maintain and improve mobility, flexibility, strength, gait speed, motor function and overall quality of life. When performed under a trained supervision, they also tend to have more improvements in mental and emotional functions, compared to self-supervised exercise program at home.
I have personally coached clients with PD. Due to their condition, most would also suffer from common chronic pain such as lower back ache, sore knees and painful shoulders. Therefore, similar strategies to manage chronic pain can still be applied here. While straight forward resistance training is important, there are other essential exercises that can be very beneficial too.
Here are some exercises I’d recommend, and have included for my clients.
Balance drills such as standing on one leg or balancing on a mini trampoline;
Walking and agility drills such as marching on the spot to encourage arm swing movement, swaying of the hips and trunk, and lifting their knees to minimize shuffling of their feet;
Co-ordination & reaction drills such as a game of catching a tennis ball or boxing;
Strength training with resistance bands, dumbbells and TRX for core control,
Flexibility program by using tools such as bands and TRX, or manual therapy
Posture correction program which includes posterior chain exercises, anterior chain stretches and breathing techniques to help overcome forward-flexed posture
Apart from a holistic exercise program, the environment place a major role too. Our private gym provides a supportive and conducive environment. This ensures that our clients with PD are comfortable, without feeling pressured by peers around them (such as other gym-goers) – hence, making exercise a positive experience for them.