Exercise will not stop or reverse the progression of PD, but it can improve your body strength and muscle tone so that you will be less disabled. Regular exercise is important to everyone, including people with PD. It can become one of your best strategies for coping with PD; besides the physical benefits, exercise can lift depression and improve your mood. Although even healthy people have difficulty sticking to an exercise program, it is even harder for someone with PD. Stiffness, fatigue, limited movements, and even difficulty breathing make exercise more challenging. If exercise used to be a joy and you were able to experience improvement in strength and endurance, with PD, it may not be so. Don't become discouraged, because although the gains may not be world class, you are strengthening your resistance and creating a better quality of life.
Exercise must be personalized. If you have been playing tennis, golfing, riding a bike, or jogging, continue to do it for as long as you can. Walking a mile or more every day is good exercise, and swimming is beneficial. However, if you have "off" periods, be certain there is someone around when you swim. Calisthenics done alone or with a partner every morning are good for both of you, and they can be tailored to match your physical capabilities. Keeping your muscles and joints active and flexible will keep them, and you, functioning longer. Make your exercise part of your daily routine.
Not all exercise is dull, repetitive, or tiring. Some activities of daily living are a form of exercise. Cleaning the house, working in the yard, doing chores, and going shopping are a type of exercise, too. They may not bulk up your muscles or improve your heart rate, but they will keep you flexible and limber. Try Tai Chi or yoga, which are very good for maintaining flexibility. Tailoring an exercise program to your particular needs may require working with a physical therapist trained in PD. Thus, if your problem is rigidity of the trunk, your exercise program may be different than if your problem is rigidity of your arms or legs. If your problem is curvature or flexion of your spine, you may require a different program than you would if your problem is flexion of your feet.
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When over eighty years of age, the poet Bryant said that he had added more than ten years to his life by taking a simple exercise while dressing in the morning. Those who knew Bryant and the facts of his life never doubted the truth of this statement.