Personal trainer working with a man who is doing sit ups with a medicine ball

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. Exercise professionals provide leadership, expertise and programs to help people living with Parkinson’s 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.

The Challenge

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.

Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Guidelines for People with Parkinson’s

As a leader in driving better health outcomes and quality of life for people with Parkinson’s, the Parkinson's Foundation along with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has created Exercise Guidelines for people with Parkinson’s.

The Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Guidelines provide guidance to help people with Parkinson’s maintain or improve their health through physical activity.

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:

  1. Aerobic
  2. Strengthening
  3. Balance, Agility & Multitasking
  4. Flexibility

Parkinson's Foundation Exercise Guidelines

Exercise Guidelines for Professionals

Explore guidelines created for exercise professionals who work with people living with Parkinson's.

Exercise Recommendations Infographic

Learn how to improve movement and non-movement symptoms of PD through exercise.

Exercise Recommendations Infographic - Spanish

Access our exercise recommendations in Spanish.

Share Our Exercise Recommendations

View and download our exercise recommendations or order them in poster size and bulk. Available in multiple languages!

Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Accreditation Recognition

The Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Accreditation Recognition distinguishes Parkinson’s-specific exercise education programs and courses that align and adhere to Criteria for Exercise Education Programs and Competency Framework for Exercise Professionals. The goal of the criteria and competency framework is to decrease the variability in knowledge and skill among exercise professionals so they can provide optimal exercise programming for people with Parkinson’s.

Download Criteria for Programs    DOWnload Competency Framework

The Foundation’s competency framework outlines how programs and courses educate and train exercise professionals to apply their existing knowledge and skills, and design and lead exercise for people with Parkinson’s.

If you’re an exercise professional looking to further your knowledge and skill in Parkinson’s and exercise, we encourage you to attend any of the following Parkinson’s Foundation accredited programs and courses!

After a rigorous application and committee review, the Parkinson’s Foundation recognizes two types of accreditations:

Parkinson's Foundation Exercise Education Program Logo

Parkinson’s Foundation Accredited Exercise Education Programs

These programs have met the rigorous requirements of the Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Competency Framework. These comprehensive programs provide and assess knowledge and skill acquisition, allowing participants to become certified exercise professionals of their particular program. Participants are assessed on an on-going basis to maintain certification. These courses can also fulfill a continuing education requirement for a certified exercise professional.

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The Neuro Exercise Specialist training program sets a professional standard for exercise professionals servicing the Parkinson’s community. It provides trainers with a comprehensive skill set to address the diverse needs, goals and symptoms of those with Parkinson’s. Learn more.

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The PWR!Moves curriculum integrates PD-specific functional skill training into a multi-modal exercise program (flexibility, strength, balance, agility, aerobics). The specificity of training begins by targeting four motor control skills shown to deteriorate and adversely affect everyday movement for people with PD. Learn more.

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Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) Head Coach Training Camp prepares participants to run a RSB Affiliate gym in their local community. This training provides full understanding of PD and its relationship to exercise. Learn more.

Parkinson's Foundation Exercise Education Program Logo

Parkinson’s Foundation Accredited Exercise Continuing Education Courses

These providers meet the requirements of aligning their curriculum around the majority of the Foundation’s competency standards. These courses provide knowledge in a particular Competency Standard. These courses fulfill a continuing education requirement for a certified exercise professional — attendees do not receive a certification or title upon completion.

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MDT Education Solutions

Continuing education courses that equip health and fitness professionals to lead community-based exercise programs that help people with Parkinson access safe and tailored exercise programs. The Community Exercise for People with Parkinson Disease course provides fitness leaders with the tools and evidence-based guidelines to apply and modify many different types of exercises to meet the specific needs of people with PD. Learn more.

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Total Health Works

Evidence-based Course on Parkinson's that showcases the methods and techniques to help people living with Parkinson's gain control over symptoms, maintain/regain independence and manage disease progression. Learn more.

The Importance of Recognizing Exercise Education Programs and Courses

Parkinson’s Foundation accreditation adds value and assurance for everyone involved in a PD-tailored exercise class including:

  • People with Parkinson’s, Care Partners and Family: Knowing your exercise professional has received PD-specific education that meets the Parkinson’s Foundation criteria provides confidence that you are in competent hands when exercising.
  • Exercise Education Programs and Courses: When a program or course is accredited, it elevates their status and distinguishes them from other courses.
  • Exercise Professionals: Completing an accredited program or course brings additional guidance and ability to provide quality care around training that focuses on Parkinson’s.
  • Healthcare Professionals: Can be confident when referring to an exercise professional who has completed an accredited PD program or course.

Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Convening

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. Read the Exercise Convening Summary Report now.

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