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Exercise Can Help People Living with Parkinson's Reduce the Risk of Falling | Fedelta Home Care, Seattle WA

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March 21, 2016

Exercise Can Help People Living with Parkinson's Reduce the Risk of Falling

Parkinson's Exercise

While aging increases the risk of falling, those living with Parkinson’s have twice the risk according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. The reasons for this include:

  • Rigidity/altered center of gravity, leading to a loss of balance
  • Low blood pressure, which can cause lightheadedness
  • Fatigue due to lack of sleep
  • Cognitive challenges, including executive function
  • Medications

Fortunately, there are several things one can do to reduce their risk of falling. One of the most effective things one can do is develop an exercise routine. Exercise plays a critical role in keeping a person living with Parkinson’s healthy and engaged in life.

According to a study published in Neurology magazine, brisk walking is one of the most effective exercises to help ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s. The research indicated that those who walked quickly enough to raise the heartrate improved both their movement symptoms, such as rigidity, as well as fatigue, depression and cognitive difficulties. One of the biggest advantages of walking is that it is easily accessible to nearly everyone. The only equipment that is needed is a good pair of walking shoes – athletic shoes with that are sturdy and well-fitting and have nonskid sole are your best bet. One should also pay attention to the walking environment – city sidewalks that are close to traffic and may have cracks and potholes should be avoided in favor of wide pathways through parks or less congested neighborhoods.

Another great exercise to help with symptoms is tai chi. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, tai chi was particularly useful in improving balance, one of the most important aspects of fall prevention. The study randomly assigned nearly 200 men and women with mild to moderate Parkinson’s into three groups – one group did strength-building exercises, one did stretching and one did tai chi. After six months, the tai chi group were stronger and had better balance than participants in the strength and stretching groups. Most importantly, they had fewer falls. And tai chi was shown to be very safe.

Whatever movement activity you choose, it’s important to maintain a routine on a regular basis. If you get bored with one exercise, try another – try to incorporate strength and balance exercise several time a week. The National Parkinson Foundation recommends doing aerobic exercise (walking, biking or swimming) at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes at a time.

While the symptoms of Parkinson’s may decrease your desire to move, exercising may ease those symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

To learn more about caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease, download our caregiver checklist guide to living well with Parkinson’s Disease. 

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2016, IlluminAge