Four “active-rest” strategies for Parkinson’s exercise

Exercise is important and makes a significant difference for people living with Parkinson’s, but so is taking proper rest. Making your rest “active” can make all the difference in addressing your Parkinson’s symptoms.

Strength training or resistance training is an extremely effective mode of exercise to improve function for people with Parkinson’s disease.

There are many different ways to structure your workout session when you are strength training. You can perform a circuit, target specific muscle groups, perform high intensity interval training (HIIT), etc. Regardless of what structure you employee, you will always be scheduling rest intervals.

unnamed (2)

The purpose of the rest is to let your heart rate come down and your muscles and soft tissues recover. For Parkinson’s disease, there are strategies that you can use during this time to exponentially improve the results of your hard work.

The duration of rest between sets is typically  between 30 and 120 seconds depending upon the structure of the workout and the type of adaptation you are attempting to achieve. There are a course exceptions to this, but for an effective Parkinson’s work out, this is what I prescribe.

So, the question becomes, what can we do during this rest time to get the most out of a workout designed to address the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Here is how you can get more from your workouts by making use of your rest intervals:

Active-rest strategies

unnamed (3)

1. Walk
Parkinson’s can make walking difficult. During workouts with my clients, I often employ “walking” as a resting/recovery activity. Slow walking with the reciprocal movement pattern we perform when we walk is a wonderful way to both bring the heart rate down and maintain proper gait. It’s also a wonderful activity to relieve the stress of an exercise such as a squat or a lat pulldown. Walking lets the body reset, recover, and allows the stressed muscle group prepare for the upcoming set by clearing the movement pattern.

2. Hand–eye coordination challenges
It doesn’t take very much effort to toss a tennis ball from one hand to the other. You can let the body rest and reset while doing so, sitting or standing. Or perform other low-effort activities that challenge coordinated movement and functional tasks. Challenge the brain and find small activities that require the sense of sight to navigate the body.
3. Movement patterns
Like walking, there are many functional movement patterns for the body that you can learn and perform. You can practice these body movements by repeating them or perform them  in sequence. If you don’t understand this principle, I have posted many meaningful movement patterns on YouTube that are available for free, or purchase one of my DVDs.

You can also find books by John Argue, Kevin Locket, Becky Farley, David Zid, etc. and learn their movements.

4. Memory Games
Engage your brain by playing a short memory game with during your rest. Purchase a deck of memory cards or simply use a standard deck of playing cards. During your first rest, layout three cards and commit the cards and suits to memory. During the subsequent rests, add additional cards and commit those to memory as well. Continue the process, adding one or two new cards each rest. See how many you can retain and watch how your memory improves over the days and weeks.

In conclusion, you can make your workouts sizzle and more dynamic by employing some simple strategies that don’t require you to add any time to your workout. Don’t just rest, challenge your brain!

Looking for ideas? Purchase the Parkinson’s Exercise Ball DVD or the Brain&body Bar DVD at

Got Parkinson’s? Feel Better with Patrick’s Exercise Programs!