Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, where there is impairment of motor skills and speech, along with various other problems, and in conjunction with medications, exercising at home can often help the patient to function better. Since traveling outside the house is not always feasible, and may even be hazardous for some patients, an exercise regime which can be followed at home is often the best option.
Before starting a home exercise program, you should consult with your doctor to verify the following :
- The type of exercise best suited for your individual case.
- Exercises that should be avoided.
- The duration and intensity of your exercise schedule.
- Any physical restrictions that may limit the extent of your program.
- Referral to a physiotherapist to guide you with your exercise program.
Physiotherapy is one of the most effective means of relaxing rigid and frozen muscles in Parkinson’s disease but keeping the cost factor in mind, it is advisable for the physiotherapist to make a home visit once or twice a week and set a daily home exercise program you can follow on your own everyday. A Parkinson’s disease patient’s fitness level, general health and symptoms should be kept in mind before starting an exercise program. The exercise plan advised will need to focus on :
- Difficulties with mobility or walking.
- Joint or muscle pain hampering day to day activities.
- Problems associated with balance.
- Difficulty in performing daily tasks such as eating, bathing, and dressing.
- Problems with speech and handwriting.
Types of Home Exercises for Parkinson’s Disease
Certain types of exercises may help, such as :
- Stretching . Simple stretches can be done anywhere and help to keep the body flexible and mobile. They should be done throughout the day, each exercise repeated three times, and holding the stretch for three to five full breaths.
- Strength training exercises with light weights can be done at home. They help to improve balance and co-ordination by strengthening muscles, and also increase resistance to fractures by strengthening bones.
- Aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, dancing, or swimming help to maintain general health and well being of the patient. While walking, the patient should practice heel to toe placement of the feet, longer strides for walking and short steps with feet apart while turning, and swinging the arms by the side.
- Aquatic exercises performed in a warm pool give excellent results regarding improvement in muscle tone, increasing range of motion, and helping to reduce pain and stiffness. The buoyancy of the water helps to improve balance and posture without the risk of falling.
- Exercises to involve movement of the limbs in full range improve flexibility and mobility.
- Singing loudly, reading aloud, making faces in the mirror, or chewing help to strengthen the facial and jaw muscles.
- Yawning helps by opening the throat and helps with swallowing problems as well as clear speech.
- Practicing Tai chi and yoga exercises can help to improve strength, balance, and flexibility, as well as reduce stress and joint pains.
Exercises should be stopped at any point if you are feeling unwell or if in pain and further exercises should only be resumed after consulting with your doctor.