Episode 129: Using the New Parkinson’s Exercise Recommendations as Part of Your Treatment Plan

Regular exercise in its various forms is one of the most important things that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) can do for themselves. It can promote aerobic conditioning, strength, balance, and flexibility and help slow the decline in mobility while improving quality of life.

Findings from the Parkinson’s Foundation Parkinson’s Outcome Project, the largest ever clinical study of PD, suggest that people with PD engage in at least two and a half hours of exercise each week to improve quality of life. Thus, recognizing the importance of exercise, the Parkinson's Foundation, in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, has created new Parkinson's Exercise Recommendations to ensure that people with PD receive safe and effective exercise programs and instruction.

These guidelines were developed and reviewed by a panel of exercise and Parkinson’s experts who recommended the frequency, intensity, time, type, volume, and progression of exercises that are safe and effective for people with PD. They include four domains important for people with PD: aerobic activity; strength training; balance, agility and multitasking; and stretching. Each recommendation is paired with specific types of activity and special safety considerations for people with PD. Besides addressing people with PD, the guidelines also are a framework for exercise professionals to help develop safe and effective programs to improve quality of life for the PD community.

In this episode, we have two exercise professionals specializing in Parkinson’s disease. Daniel Corcos, PhD, a professor in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, was an outside reviewer of the Parkinson’s Foundation’s Exercise Competencies and Criteria Initiative, which spells out general principles for people with PD to engage in endurance exercise. He explains endurance (cardiovascular) exercise, in which one aims to raise the heart rate to specific levels. Lee Dibble, PhD, PT, ATC, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, discusses resistance training, also called strength training.

Released: May 17, 2022

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