Healthy Living

A Guide to Help Cope with a Life-Altering Parkinson's Diagnosis

Physical Activity

Physically, Parkinson’s patients start out just as physically fit as anyone else. As the disease progresses however, they will gradually lose range of motion particularly in the back and neck, in addition tremors, freezing, slowness, changes in balance and a decrease in muscle strength will make it difficult to maintain as active a lifestyle as they once may have led.

Up until fairly recently, it was thought that a sedentary lifestyle that minimized the chance of falls was the best option for Parkinson’s patients. But new research has proven that to not be the case. There have evolved two schools of exercise that focus on keeping patients healthy and slowing the course of the disease, organized exercise and physical activity both determined to be valuable.

If physical activity was not a large part of the patient's life before diagnosis, this is an excellent time to incorporate it in their lives as they can create a program from the ground up building as they go and while assessing their current strengths and weakness, which may also be useful in planning a course of treatment as disease symptoms appear. It’s been suggested that the more vigorous the exercise program engaged in, the more symptoms are slowed. 

That however doesn’t mean that patients should overextend themselves as this may cause more harm that could. Hurting themselves to the point of having to sit out for a long recovery period may hasten the progression of the disease. Many studies have shown that sedentary lifestyle can not only have an impact on Parkinson’s, it also increases the risks for cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes, depression and may make non-motor symptoms such as insomnia and constipation worse.