Patients with Parkinson’s disease usually find it difficult to be independent in daily activities of living. However, self-exercise is one of the best ways they can improve and train their body to reach a good level of independence in their daily life. Here are 10 wonderful exercises for individuals with Parkinson’s disease that target range of activities.
1. Maintaining your balance
To maintain balance, patients of Parkinson’s disease can practice swinging both arms while walking. This will lessen fatigue and loosen the arms and shoulders. Furthermore, walking while changing the speed of your gait from fast to slow from one destination to another is a good technique for improving your balance. Using a chair as a support, you can also do leg lifts to the front and side, making sure that your back stays straight and your spine remains in a neutral position.
The best exercise to improve your walking in Parkinson’s disease is toes up! The rule is to stride forward, striking the heel and rolling the foot as you transfer weight forward to the toe. This is a good way to avoid commonly occurring calf cramps or freezing, making the lower leg active. In addition, always practice walking briskly, with both arms helping to elevate the strides. To aid balance, legs should always be further apart while walking.
3. Sitting and standing
The most effective exercise for achieving a sit to stand is to practice it in an armless chair. Patients should sit slowly into the chair until their bottom reaches the seat. However, rising from the chair should be rapid to resist gravity, which is a good exercise to train yourself for this purpose. I often instruct my clients to perform the sit-to-stand “aggressively.” This word seems to cause a translation to more effective movement for the individuals.
4. Posture and tight muscles
Stiffness and muscles that tighten or cramp are one of the most common complaints of patients with Parkinson’s disease. The focus of the exercise for this problem should be on arms, shoulders, legs in a wall lean. An easy exercise is to stand 8 in away from a wall, keeping arms as high as possible, with the palms and fingers open. Lean in and stretch in this position repeatedly to improve posture.
5. Fine motor skill: Working the hands and fingers for everyday tasks
Stiffness is the worst enemy of patients with Parkinson’s disease an can often effect the hands making daily tasks difficult. One practical exercise for this condition is buttoning and unbuttoning a shirt. Furthermore, exercising the hands by squeezing a ball and stretching your fingers, or imitating the action of playing the piano, can also help improve hand and finger dexterity. Many additional exercises can be found online by performing a simple google search.
6. Facial exercises
Mask face is a common symptom in Parkinson’s and presents in an individual’s lack of expression. This can be frustrating for both the individual and his/her companion as it falsely communicates a lack of interest. To help keep the facial muscles supple and responsive, you can get playful with it in front of a mirror. Have fun with it while making faces which express various emotions, confused, sad, happy, surprised, etc. This will help loosen the facial muscles and prevent them from getting tighter. Massaging your face while taking a warm bath is also a good exercise for facial muscles. Be careful with the warm bath if you have hypertension or orthostatic hypotension.
7. Voice exercises
Voice exercises are very important for patients with Parkinson’s disease because a symptom of the disease can be a weakening voice and difficulty swallowing. If you are having either of these problems it’s important to consult with a Licensed Voice and Speech Pathologist as soon as possible. One of the best vocal strategies is to speak louder than you think you should. Make sure you use your diaphragm while projecting your voice. I told one of my Parkinson’s clients to go home and yell at his wife. This was of course a joke, but he got the point. Feel the diaphragm as you speak loudly and forcefully. Yawning is also a useful vocal exercise. Make sure to open your throat while yawning. This is also an effective strategy if you have difficulty swallowing.
8. Falling Exercise
Patients with Parkinson’s disease can be prone to serious falls. It is often advised that they should practice by incorporating fall techniques during their exercise sessions. This will help them get accustomed to falling and teach them to do so while avoiding injury.
9. Navigating tight spaces
Most patients with Parkinson’s disease fear walking into tight or narrow spaces because of their poor balance. This is more of a fear than a disability. Exercises performed during a training session that involve navigating tight corners of a room to practice this routine and overcome fear. This is a great “active rest” activity to perform during your workout.
10. Brain exercises: teasers, memory and cognition
Just like with any other disease, brain exercises are very effective in the case of patients with Parkinson’s disease to improve their quality of daily life. The most effective exercises are brain games that challenge your mind such as puzzles, chess and writing.