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Parkinson’s Disease: Why Exercise Is One Of The Best Treatments

by Nellie

Parkinson's Disease and Exercise

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending a lunch to promote the awareness of the benefits of exercise on the Parkinson’s disease. The event was hosted by the wonderful Carol Walton and Amy Lemen who are excellent advocates for the disease. Parkinsons is becoming an increasingly prevalent disease, more and more people are being diagnosed daily and it’s important that we start talking about it.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

It’s a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

There are four major symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

  • Tremors
  • Rigidity
  • Akenisia
  • Postural instability

The cause is the combination of genetics and environment. Although there are people of all ages with the disease, the single biggest risk is age. Carol said something during her presentation that struck me:

“Parkinsons is a disease, that if you don’t take care of it, it will take care of you”

This will be the 20th anniversary of the walk, the first walk was held in 1994 and last year 11k walkers and/or donors participated. This is the largest grassroots organization for Parkinson’s in the country!

How Exercise affects Parkinson’s

There are many medications and treatments for Parkinson’s disease but the least expensive and most effective therapy? Exercise! (I personally am not surprised as I use exercise as my own personal daily therapy:))

Doctors are now prescribing exercise as a part of the routine with medication. Here are some of the benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s Disease:

  • Helps to relieve depression & anxiety
  • Improved cognition
  • Mood management

There are even specific exercise centers in Brooklyn and NYC that provide lots of exercise classes including yoga, Tai chi, dance and more!

Unity Walk 3

How much exercise should Parkinson’s patients be doing?

The best exercise is the one you love doing. Patients are generally recommended  to do 30-40 minutes a day/5 times a week (which exactly how much all of us should be doing!). A really perfect way to show your support for Parkinson’s Disease AND exercise is to participate in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk held in NYC every spring! You can donate, form a team and/or walk! Keep in mind that 100% of all funds go to Parkinson’s research!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

(Rain or Shine)


72nd Street Bandshell

Central Park, New York, NY

1.4 mile walk followed by fun, interactive activities with sponsor representatives

Do you know anyone with Parkinson’s Disease? Do you use exercise as therapy too?

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Kristina Walters March 4, 2014 - 5:25 am

This is great Nellie! I never knew that Parkinson’s can be treated with exercise. Thankfully, no one that I know has it. Yes, I give myself sweat therapy regularly!

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 7:45 pm

Yes its a really great treatment!

Allie March 4, 2014 - 6:21 am

Exercise can cure so much. I absolutely use it as a tool to curb my anxiety and I’m not surprised that it’s being prescribed for people with Parkinson’s! I don’t know anyone with this disease but I’m positive it takes a strong person to deal with it. I’m so glad to hear the fitness industry (at least in NYC) is offering specialized programs. That is awesome!

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 7:48 pm

Yes I also use it to curb my anxiety and stress, its like free medication!

Janine March 4, 2014 - 7:23 am

Didn’t know this at all to be honest and thank you so much Nellie for sharing about exercise being a treatment for Parkinson’s and also the walk in the spring for it!! 🙂

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 7:59 pm

You are welcome Janine!

The Dose of Reality March 4, 2014 - 7:39 am

I knew that exercise was important for Parkinson’s patients (as it is for us all), but I didn’t realize the extent of the things that it does. Wonderful!! (and it makes perfect sense when you think about it) Thanks for passing along this important information!! I hope the Unity Walk is wildly successful!! –Lisa

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:01 pm

Thanks Lisa, exercise is really beneficial for these patients!

Michelle March 4, 2014 - 11:01 am

Exercise is great therapy…but I had no idea how important it was to people with Parkinson’s! Thanks for spreading the word! This is very important info. Sharing!

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:04 pm

Thanks for sharing Michelle!

Kim March 4, 2014 - 1:44 pm

My grandmother had Parkinson’s (a mild form thankfully) – she was always so mortified by the hand tremors – too bad she didn’t try exercise!!!

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:05 pm

Hopefully now we can share the information and spread the word!

FitBritt March 4, 2014 - 2:11 pm

I am not surprised that exercise is great therapy for Parkinson’s. I think it is a great form of therapy for most things!

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:07 pm

Amen to that Britt!

Kita March 4, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Good details about this disease I had no idea it could be treated with exercise. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t this what Michael J. Fox has?

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:08 pm

You are correct, he is the most recognized face with the Parkinson’s disease.

Tamara March 4, 2014 - 4:52 pm

My uncle has Parkinson’s and my sister’s father-in-law. My family does the walk in Central Park every year! Although this year my mom will be up here because the 26th is our anniversary and she’ll be babysitting for us.

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:10 pm

ahhh that is so cool!

Leslie March 4, 2014 - 9:18 pm

Definitely a cause worth fighting for (against?). I’m a firm believer in exercise as therapy…I use it as stress therapy at work and it makes my day so much more manageable. It’s no surprise that exercise would be beneficial for anyone.

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:14 pm

Me too!! I got to exercise on my lunch break and it does wonders for my stress levels!

Nellie March 8, 2014 - 8:19 pm

Yes I completely agree. Exercise and healthy living eliminates most bad ailments!

catherine gacad March 9, 2014 - 5:19 pm

i’m a firm believer in exercise. my anatomy professor in college played tennis every day and she looked fabulous and continued to teach until her nineties.


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