Are there exercises that can help those with Parkinson’s disease?

By Britnee Cason, Assistant Director of the William A. Doig Health Club and Spa

Recent advances in research have shown that exercise plays an important role in maintaining and improving the quality of life of a person living with Parkinson’s disease. Evidence- based exercise programs specifically for people with PD can be a very effective way of combating some of the symptoms of this movement disorder, such as slowness of movement and postural instability.

Exercises that promote improving aerobic capacity and skills acquisition optimize quality of life and real world function. The “PWR!Moves®” skill training program created by Dr. Becky Farley helps maintain and restore skills that may have deteriorated which can interfere with every day movement.

There are four basic moves in this training program and each one is designed to improve a specific functional task. All of these moves are performed with large amplitude, high effort and are done in five different positions: standing, seated, supine (back), prone (stomach), and all fours (hands and knees). 

  1. PWR! Up – improves antigravity extension and posture
  2. PWR! Rock – works on weight shifting for better balance and mobility
  3. PWR! Twist –  combats rigidity and improves axial mobility
  4. PWR! Step –  helps to improve transitional movements (turning, getting into a seated position)

Exercise should be seen as a treatment for PD, not just a recommendation, as it has so many physical, cognitive and emotional benefits.