Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease exercises

The picture above is from the website

Some of the cardinal signs of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Tremor in the hands
  • Shuffling in walking, small steps
  • Difficulty with initiation of movement ie walking, rolling over in bed
  • Pillrolling of the forefinger and thumb
  • Decreased facial expressions

Your physician will likely perform some testing of the brain to help in the diagnosis of the disease. Medication can be extremely helpful in managing the disease.  Physical therapy can be a wonderful way to help in improving legs strength, decreasing muscle stiffness and improving walking form. A home health nurse can be crucial in helping you make sure you are taking your medications correctly and helping reconcile your medications (making sure all of the medications are in one data base and making sure there are no major side effects or harmful interactions)

The physiology of the brain changes with Parkinson’s disease

  • An area called the substantia nigra loses cells
  • Dopamine production diminishes
  • Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps coordinate motor movements between parts of the brain

Some exercises to help Parkinson’s patients are below:

  • And at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Alberts et al. Parkinson’s patients gained in aerobic fitness, improved in motor function, coordination, and manual dexterity. This improvement was retained some weeks after the exercise stopped.
  • In a recent study conducted by Beth Fisher et al., researchers at  the University of Southern California found that exercise may have an effect on the brain. On a day-to-day basis, people with PD (Parkinson’s disease) who exercised moved more normally than those who did not. Based on these findings, they believe that exercise may be helping the brain to maintain old connections, form new ones and restore lost ones. They suggest that, in certain situations, the neuroplasticity (adaptability of the neurons of the brain) created from exercise in patients with PD may actually outweigh the effects of neurodegeneration.
  • The above are just some of the mounting evidence that shows that for people with Parkinson’s, exercise is an essential part of managing the disease.

Page reviewed by Dr. Joash Lazarus, NPF Movement Disorders Fellow, Department of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Ask your physician, physical therapist, nurse, speech therapist and or occupational therapist about Lee Silverman Voice Training (LSVT) which not only includes voice training but extensive arm and leg balance exercises. It is a program that is showing extraordinary success with Parkinson’s patients.

Always have somebody close by you to help you stay stable with the exercises. The key is to do the exercises with big steps/ large amplitude.

  1. Take a BIG step forward 10 x with the right leg and open arms wide. Take a big step forward with the left leg 10 x. Perform 2 x focusing on good form. Perform 2 x a day. Perform 5 x a week with supervision and if needed use arms on a rail that is sturdy or hands on the kitchen sink for stability.

Image result for lsvt big exercises for parkinson's disease

2. Take a big step to the side 10 x with the left and then the right. Perform 2 x a day. Perform 5 x a week. Have someone to supervise you.

.Image result for side step exercise image


3.  Step forward and open arms wide. The back heel is off the ground. Take a big step! Perform 10 x with good form. 2 x a day. 5 x a week. It is critical to have somebody beside you for helping you not to fall.

Image result for lsvt step exercises

4. As part of this exercise above the backward phase is taking a big step backwards. Notice the front foot has the toes up and the arms are back. Perform with good form, 10 x 2 x a day, 5 x a week. It is critical to have somebody beside you so you will be protected from a fall.


Image result for lsvt step exercises




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