Exercise is increasingly accepted as an adjunct treatment for Parkinson’s disease that is associated with slower declines in mobility and improved quality of life. A variety of evidence-informed exercise programs are available in different communities, but it can be difficult for people with Parkinson’s to find appropriate guidance to navigate the community-based exercise world. It can also be difficult for exercise professionals to access PD-specific trainings.
Exercise professionals provide leadership, expertise and programs to help people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) achieve their goals and manage their Parkinson’s symptoms. These professionals should be considered an integral part of the interprofessional care team for people with Parkinson’s.
Despite this important role played by exercise professionals in the care of people with Parkinson’s, there are no unified procedures in place to define competence of exercise professionals working with people with Parkinson’s. Anyone can teach exercise to people with Parkinson’s and the community assumes they are competent. This makes it increasingly difficult for people with Parkinson’s and healthcare providers to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of programs as well as the skills and experience of the instructor.
In 2020, the Parkinson’s Foundation convened a meeting with a group of experts to update Parkinson’s exercise guidelines and build a competency framework for exercise professionals. Our goal is to ensure that people with Parkinson’s receive safe and effective programs and instruction while reducing unwanted variation in exercise delivery.
As a leader in driving better health outcomes and quality of life for people with Parkinson’s, the Parkinson's Foundation has created Exercise Guidelines for people with Parkinson’s (see below) and is in the process of creating a competency framework for Exercise Professionals to ensure that people with Parkinson’s are receiving safe and effective programs and instruction.
Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Guidelines for People with Parkinson’s
Take a deeper dive into the Parkinson's Foundation Exercise Guidelines with Miriam Rafferty, PT, DPT, PhD and view short video below.
These guidelines were developed and reviewed by a panel of exercise and Parkinson’s experts. They were built upon existing exercise guidelines, supplemented by physical therapy resources, PD-specific exercise research and expert opinions. The guidelines include recommended frequency, intensity, time, type, volume, and progression (FITT-VP) of exercises that are safe and effective for people with Parkinson’s across four domains: aerobic, strengthening, flexibility, and balance. These guidelines represent our recommendations on exercise as a prescription for people with Parkinson’s.
Open for public comment
Jan. 30, 2021-April 30, 2021
The Parkinson’s Foundation believes in empowering the Parkinson’s community through education. Learn more about exercise and Parkinson’s with our below resources:
- Parkinson’s Today Blog: Addressing Exercise Standards for Fitness Professionals Working with the Parkinson’s Community
- Fitness Counts, A Body Guide to Parkinson’s Disease
- Managing Parkinson’s Mid-Stride: A Treatment Guide to Parkinson’s