Physical Activity and Parkinson’s Disease

 Why Aerobic Activities?
• Aerobic activities make the body’s large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time.
• Aerobic activities improve physical fitness, including strength and endurance.
• Aerobic activities have a positive effect on slowness and stiffness, as well as mood, and quality of life.
Examples: brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, water aerobics, skating, hiking, treadmill or elliptical, Wii

Why Flexibility Activities?
• Flexibility or stretching exercises improve mobility, increase range of motion, and reduce stiffness.
• Improving range of motion affects posture and walking ability making everyday activities easier.
Examples: Tai Chi, stretching

Why Strengthening Activities?
• Strengthening activities improve muscle strength, walking speed, posture and overall physical fitness.
• Improving strength will help everyday activities, such as getting up from a chair, easier to manage.
Examples: yard work or gardening, weights/resistance (free weights, elastic bands, body weight)

Why Balance Activities?
• Balance activities improve posture and stability.
• Better balance reduces the fear of falling and helps in performing daily tasks.
Examples: Yoga, hiking, Wii

The contents of this document are provided for information purposes only, and do not represent advice, an endorsement or a recommendation with respect to any product, service or enterprise, and/or the claims and properties thereof, by Parkinson Society Canada. 2012.

This resource was developed with input from physiotherapists at Canadian Movement Disorder Clinics and reviewed by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

✔ Take your Parkinson medications on time for maximum mobility.
✔ Take 3-5 minutes to warm up at the beginning and cool down as you finish.
✔ Exercise in a way that is safe for you (e.g., when doing balance exercises you may need a stable support nearby).
✔ Concentrate on doing the exercises correctly.
✔ Start with shorter periods of exercise and gradually increase. Greater intensity equals greater benefits.
✔ Monitor fatigue both during and after activities. At the end, you should feel tired, but not exhausted.
✔ Drink water to stay hydrated.
✔ Join a group or find an “exercise buddy”.

Click image to download printable pdf.

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults (18-64 years and 65 years and older) do at least 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous aerobic activity per week; and muscle and bone strengthening activities at least twice per week.  

1. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, Glossary of terms.
2. Parkinson’s Disease: Fitness Counts. National Parkinson Foundation. Accessed from:
3. Exercises for People with Parkinson’s. Parkinson Society Canada.
4. Goodwin VA, et al. The Effectiveness of Exercise Interventions for People with Parkinson’s Disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Movement Disorders. 2008;23(5):631-640.
5. Goodwin VA, Richards SH, Henley W et al. An exercise intervention to prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry with practical neurology. 2011;82:1232-8.

Other resources you may find helpful:
Exercises for People with Parkinson’s
Living with Parkinson’s
Medication Checklist
Progression of Parkinson’s Disease
Abstracts supporting the benefits of exercise for Parkinson’s symptoms