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The role of exercise in the management of Parkinson’s disease

Cavendish Homecare discuss how physical activity can be of great benefit

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Cavendish Homecare discuss the positive impact exercise can have in enabling people to live well with Parkinson’s disease and the options around physical activity that could be considered

 

Regular exercise can play a crucial role in managing Parkinson’s disease, offering numerous physical and mental benefits, such as improved flexibility, mobility, balance, coordination, agility, gait, strength, and a positive impact on overall well-being. Exercise may also positively impact depression, anxiety, apathy, cognition, and sleep difficulties.

In this article, we explore the vital role of exercise in managing Parkinson’s disease, highlighting its physical and mental benefits, and providing insights into tailored exercise programs that can significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with this condition.

Challenges to exercising

Engaging in regular exercise can present challenges for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. While people in the early stages of Parkinson’s diesase are often just as strong and physically fit as their healthy peers of the same age, the progression of the disease can bring about various physical changes, including:

  • Loss of joint flexibility – Parkinson’s disease can lead to a decrease in joint flexibility, which can impact balance and stability.
  • Decreased muscle strength or deconditioning – Over time, Parkinson’s disease may cause a decline in muscle strength and overall conditioning. This can affect walking ability and make it more challenging to stand up from a seated position.
  • Decline in cardiovascular conditioning – Parkinson’s disease can also result in a decline in cardiovascular fitness. This can affect endurance levels, making it more difficult to engage in activities requiring sustained physical effort.

Understanding these physical changes and their potential impact on exercise can help individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their healthcare providers develop appropriate exercise programs tailored to their specific needs and abilities.

Benefits of exercise in Parkinson’s disease

Regular exercise offers numerous physical and mental advantages for individuals managing Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that:

  • Participating in any form of physical activity is beneficial for managing movement symptoms.
  • Individuals with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease can benefit from targeted exercises to address specific symptoms, such as aerobic exercises for fitness improvement, walking exercises to aid gait, and resistance training for muscle strengthening.
  • Exercise has the potential to enhance cognition, alleviate depression, and reduce fatigue, with ongoing research exploring these benefits further.
  • Vigorous exercise, such as running or cycling, has been associated with fewer brain changes caused by aging.

Types of exercises for Parkinson’s disease:

  • Aerobic (swimming, cycling, hiking, dance)
  • Coordination and balance (planks, single-leg stands)
  • Strength (lifting weights, gardening, climbing stairs, push-ups)
  • Flexibility (stretching)

Low-intensity physical activity

Starting with low-intensity exercises can be an excellent way to begin. It’s crucial to prioritise personal preferences, capabilities, and limitations when choosing an exercise regimen.

Even a stretch or gentle movements can help in case of tiredness or low energy. If uncertain about how to begin incorporating exercise into one’s routine, two helpful strategies are keeping an activity diary and finding a workout buddy. Combining these can create a solid foundation for starting and maintaining an exercise regimen that works.

High-intensity physical activity

When it comes to exercise, individuals engaging in moderate to high-intensity activities push themselves to the point of breaking a sweat and exerting significant effort. Such exercises are specifically designed to challenge the body and contribute to the improvement of cardiovascular fitness, strength, and endurance.

Whether it’s lifting one’s mood or supporting neurons in the brain, high intensity doesn’t just help physically, it can also help mentally.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare, we are experts in providing home care for anyone who wishes to remain in their own homes while they receive treatment, recover from surgery, or manage medications. We work to support the patient and their family with private care to reduce pain, improve comfort and quality of life.  Supporting a loved one that is going through Parkinson’s can be emotionally stressful and physically demanding. Our Parkinson’s care allows you to reduce that pressure and take on the care where required. Get in touch with us today.

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