Exercise is critical for helping manage motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremors and balance issues, as well as non-motor symptoms related to mood. It’s very likely that one of the first pieces of advice your neurologist or movement disorder specialist will give you after diagnosing you with Parkinson’s is to prioritize exercise in your life. Many Canadians living with Parkinson’s work with physiotherapists to help them stay limber and balanced, while others find accessing a physiotherapist difficult.
Tips before begin balancing exercises
- Pick an appropriate time to exercise, such as when your medication is managing your motor symptoms well.
- Exercise at your own pace.
- Limit the distractions you have around you before beginning.
- Always have something nearby to help stabilize you if needed.
- Always talk to your doctor before trying exercises by yourself.
Once you’re ready, here are a few go-to balance exercises to get familiar with:
Exercise #1: Balance exercise to do with a chair
Before you begin, put on a pair of comfortable shoes.
Stand behind a sturdy chair with a high enough back to rest your hands on comfortably.
Support yourself with both hands and engage your abdominal muscles to support your core.
When you’re ready, begin slowly rising onto the tips of your toes and back down onto a flat foot.
Going at your own pace, complete five to 10 repetitions of the exercises.
Exercise #2: Balance exercise to do in a pool
Let the water’s continual movement help stimulate your balance receptors and activate your core muscles.
Stand with both feet together and scull your hands in front of your body (moving hands side to side as if smoothing two piles of sand). Then repeat on one foot at a time while sculling your hands in front of your body.
Take five steps, stop and stabilize on either one foot or both.
Lean forward in the water until your feet rise off the pool floor. Push your arms down and pull your knees in until you can bring your feet underneath you and stand up tall.
Repeat this exercise five to 10 times, or as your endurance will allow.
Exercise #3: Balance exercise against a wall
Stand with your back against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and a few feet from the wall.
Pull your body away from the wall using your leg strength, until your body is upright.
Slowly move your hips backward until you touch the wall once more, then let your upper body join the wall. Your toes ought to carry up slightly throughout the movement.
Adjust your distance from the wall according to your comfort level and repeat 10 times.
Balance is everything
Maintaining your balance with exercise will become a critical part of your personal care while living with Parkinson’s. As the above three examples attest to, balance exercises can be done in a number of different places and positions. There are countless options for engaging in balance exercises, ensuring you have all the variety you need for your comfort level and needs. Activities that incorporate balance elements such as yoga tai chi, Pilates, boxing, and dance are ideal for people living with Parkinson’s.
Want to know more about balance exercises?
- Download the Canadian edition of Every Victory Counts®, the comprehensive manual for living well with Parkinson’s.
- Check in with our exercise and wellness resources.
- Download our fall prevention guide to access more exercises.