How to start cycling with Parkinson’s

How to start cycling with Parkinson’s


If you’re wondering how to get started with cycling after receiving your Parkinson’s diagnosis, you may already know that exercise and Parkinson’s go hand in hand. Cycling is just one of many exercise options, but it’s one of few that offers a customizable intensity to suit your current physical needs while helping you grow stronger and more balanced.

While we will always recommend you speak with your doctor before starting any new workout regime, if you’re interested in what cycling has to offer, below you’ll find:

Three reasons to choose cycling as your exercise of choice in Parkinson’s

  1. As mentioned at the outset, cycling is one of many exercise options out there. But what other exercise option tackles cardio stamina, balance, strength straining, posture and flexibility all at once? You can also target any one of those systems more closely based on your unique needs.
  2. Beyond customizing which system you want to focus on during your workouts, when we say cycling has a customizable intensity, we mean you can listen to your body and adjust your gears and settings moment by moment. Cycling can also be performed on a number of different machines, all offering the same multi-system benefits, while meeting your needs as they are today (more on that to come).
  3. There is an ever-growing Parkinson’s cycling community across this beautiful country of ours. From coast to coast, you will find local pedaling groups who have been described time and time again as “the most genuine people who radiate goodness.” Through cycling, you are sure to make friends close to home who are also dedicated to managing their Parkinson’s through cycling exercise.

Five steps to get started with cycling

  1. Learn about the different kinds of stationary and road bikes. You can use an upright stationary spin bike, a recumbent stationary spin bike, an upright road bike, a recumbent road bike, or even a recumbent road trike. Getting started with cycling during the cooler Canadian months? Stationary bikes indoors will be a great place to start!
  2. Hop on your bike of choice. Whether you get a stationary bike for your home, use the mountain bike collecting dust in the garage or head to your local gym, there’s no time like the present to get on and see how it feels.
  3. Take your time. Always spend 10 minutes or so letting your body get used to the momentum and feel of the bike and gradually bring your heart rate up. From there listen to your body and adjust your speed, resistance and incline as you need.
  4. There’s no need to rush into a full cardio routine with cycling. Spend the first couple of weeks becoming acquainted with cycling. From there you can challenge yourself by increasing your intensity, at which point you will begin truly experiencing the benefits of cycling with Parkinson’s.
  5. Routine, routine, routine! Living with Parkinson’s can mean facing daily apathy and challenges with motivation. Making your new-found exercise a part of your weekly routine can greatly assist your success with it. You’ll also want to pay close attention to your “on and off” medication periods so you can plan to cycle when you’re feeling at your best. You can use a medication tracker like the downloadable worksheet from the David Phinney Foundation’s Every Victory Counts Canadian Edition.

Five cycling events to look forward to

Every late summer and early autumn, five cycling events take place to help raise funds for Canadians impacted by Parkinson’s. With varying degrees of challenge, each one offers a perfect goal to anyone just getting started with cycling this autumn and winter.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Prince Edward County, Ontario

The Prince Edward County ride is intended to be an inclusive, family-friendly event. The 40 km and 75 km route options ensure that there is a fun challenge for everyone. Regardless of the route, participants choose a pace that is enjoyable for them. It’s not a race, so riders take it slow, savour the scenery and share in the laughter with their family and friends.

Pedaling for Parkinson's - Prince Edward County 2022

Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Summerside, PEI

Chaired by Dan Steele, the Maritimes ride in Summerside is a two-day ride offering several distances along the iconic Confederation Trail. On day one, riders explore the trail west of Summerside and on day two, riders head east.  In its inaugural year we had riders on bikes, trikes, recumbents, and everything in between.

Dan shared openly about how cycling, and this event in particular, have been a game changer in his life with Parkinson’s.

Pedaling for Parkinson's Maritimes -Summerside 2021

Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Orangeville, Ontario

The Orangeville ride is another perfect family-friendly cycling event for those looking to put their cycling skills front and center while raising funds to support Canadians living with Parkinson’s. Riders can choose between a 40 km or a 97 km ride, and no matter the route, all can participate in the social mix and mingle that takes place that evening. Friendships and connections sprout from these social gatherings, and we encourage all participants to carve out time to celebrate their accomplishments together.

Pedaling for Parkinson's - Orangeville

Growling Beaver Brevet in Collingwood, Ontario

A unique cycling event with truly exceptional fundraising goals and even more exceptional riders, this event is showing the Parkinson’s community that they’re never alone. Each year, Growling Beaver raises more than $300,000 dollars and takes participants on a breathtaking – literally – cycle through the Beaver Valley of Ontario. 40, 60, 100, or 200 km options, all filled with challenging inclines and fun-filled descents, means riders are pushing themselves to their limits to support those in their lives who live with Parkinson’s.

Ride Your Way

Our current rides are touching ground in Ontario and PEI. Help us expand our fundraising efforts, and the love and benefits of cycling for those living with Parkinson’s, to the rest of Canada. You can set up your own local ride and inspire your community to pedal for Parkinson’s.

We encourage riders to set meaningful distances and fundraising targets and know that in doing so they are joining riders across the country who are committed in their vision of a world without Parkinson’s.

 Some targeted goals:

  • 30KM in honour of 30 Canadians diagnosed with Parkinson’s every day
  • 100KM in honour of the (more than) 100,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s
  • 900KM total in one month, in honour of 30 Canadians diagnosed every day