What Kind of Exercise is Best?
Ideally, combining a range of different fitness activities can bring the most benefit to patients. Amodeo says, since variety increases muscle learning and is more neurologically invigorating.
That said, “any bit of exercise helps,” she notes, adding that it also pays to build up slowly. An introductory session with a physical therapist is also recommended to help patients find the best beginning regimen for their ability level. The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) National Resource Center for Rehabilitation runs a toll-free hotline (888-606-1688) that allows callers to speak with a licensed physical therapist who can offer advice about exercising and help connect callers to resources in their communities.
While the most important thing is finding a fitness activity you enjoy, and sticking with it, Amodeo says she’s seen benefits from a few particular types of exercise in particular – such as boxing, which, she notes, combines aerobic exercise, weight training and balance all in one class, as well as yoga and tai chi, which deliver balance training and help with fluidity of movement. “They’re also good for overall mindfulness and taking time for you,” she notes. For those more limited in their mobility, she says a stationary bike or aquatic therapy are great options.
While research shows cardio is especially key to cerebral blood flow, Amodeo recommends working in some weight training, too. “The only way you’re going to help beat the disease is by becoming stronger and able to move better,” she says.
And finally, don’t overlook a dance class as a potentially fun and beneficial type of exercise. One study showed that Argentine tango classes in particular improved PD patient’s balance and functional mobility.