Exercise is also known as physical activity and includes any movement which makes your body work at a higher intensity than normal daily routines and activities demand. Physical activities can be planned, structured and repetitive for the purpose of exerting muscles, joints and ligaments, conditioning specific parts of the body, or improvingcardiovascular levels in order to maintain or improve general fitness. The range to choose from is wide, from gentle walking or gardening to strenuous running and endurance sports. Exercise can be taken either on your own or in a group or team.
Exercise and Parkinson’s
Exercise is particularly important when living with Parkinson’s because as the condition progresses people tend to move less and muscles and joints can become stiff and weak as a result. Today there is emerging evidence (see Research) that exercise may have a neuroprotective effect, meaning that it can slow disease progression. It might also help in reducing or delaying symptoms like rigidity and preventing secondary complications such as contractures of muscles and joints. This can make everyday activities, including turning in bed, getting up from chairs or dressing, easier.
There are also psychological benefits to doing exercise because it can give people a sense of control over Parkinson’s. Exercising won’t take Parkinson’s away but it can make people feel better about living with it and, together with a good medication regime, can enhance quality of life and help maintain independence. Remember, it is never too late to start an exercise programme.
Benefits of regular exercise include:
- increased muscle strength
- improved balance
- greater energy and reduced fatigue
- improving the connection between mind and body when moving
- a decrease in speech and swallowing problems
- improved mood/decreased depression
- fewer muscle and joint injuries
- an increased feeling of control
- a sense of accomplishment
- enjoyable social contact
- preventing/reducing gait problems
- preventing/reducing sleep difficulties
- preventing/reducing bone wasting (osteoporosis).