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Tips for Becoming Physically Active

Exercise is a crucial part of Parkinson’s management.

If you did not exercise regularly before your diagnosis, it can be hard to find the motivation.

Ask your health care provider to refer you to a physical therapist or exercise physiologist for evaluation and to develop an exercise program that fits your needs. In the meantime, here are some tips to get started:

Get started

A good place to start is by building exercise into your daily routine.

  • Start your day with some gentle stretching exercises. You can even stretch in bed before you get up!
  • Take short walks around your home: down the hallways if you live in an apartment, or to the mailbox.

Find a buddy

In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can provide mental and social stimulation.

  • Invite a friend or family member to exercise with you, so you can be a support system for each other.
  • Join a local walking (or running or cycling) group to connect with others with similar interests.
  • Take a class. Classes promote follow-through and provide a trained instructor to give clear guidelines and modifications.

Be realistic

Don’t try too much too soon. Start by doing activities for a few minutes a day.

  • Ten minutes of exercise three times per day adds up to 30 minutes!
  • You might be exercising already and not know it – gardening, taking the dog for a walk and cleaning the house are all forms of exercise.
  • Balance activity and rest to reduce fatigue

Keep track

Schedule your exercise to make sure you do it. Using a chart or calendar to plan and track your exercise can act as a motivator. It can also boost your self-esteem when you see how much you have done.

Make it a habit

Look at your daily activities to see where you can do things a little differently.

  • Park a little farther away when you shop.
  • Walk all the aisles in a store.
  • Take the stairs when you can.
  • Exercise while you watch TV.

Have fun!

Be creative. Exercise does not have to mean big machines and fancy gym equipment.

  • Nintendo Wii U has a variety of games and activities that can help you improve movement, gait and balance issues associated with PD.
  • Try music therapy. Music can enhance performance by providing rhythm to coordinate movement.

There are so many exercise options, you do not have to force yourself to do something you do not enjoy. Have fun with it!

If you care for someone with Parkinson's, check out the fact sheet The Importance of Exercise and Activity for People with PD. It contains tips to help you encoruage your loved one to do regular exercise and activity.

For more information on what is known about exercise and PD and what is still in the research stages, and for tips on overcoming barriers to getting enough exercise, listen to the podcast episode "The Benefits of Exercise for People with Parkinson's."