Increasing Exercise for Parkinson’s: The Benefits I Experienced

Recently, I stayed at an inpatient rehabilitation facility due to an exacerbation of my Parkinson’s disease. During my 3-week stay, I decided to compare the amount of time that I devoted to my daily exercising routine compared to my progress.

Time devoted to exercise at home

Even though I was aware of the research and benefits of exercise in Parkinson's disease, I was not reaching my daily potential of exercising. I was receiving 2 hours per week of physical therapy in addition to 1 hour per week of tai chi.

At home, honestly, I was not doing my part in upholding my daily exercise routine. I thought that walking (although, sometimes losing my balance), caring for myself, and doing my activities of daily living were sufficient. My home exercise time was about 30 minutes a day 5 times a week. I knew that I had to ramp up my home routine, but having PD fatigue was impeding my good intentions.

Therapy at the rehabilitation center

At the time of admission, I was in a weakened physical state and needed assistance with my self-care routines. During my in-patient stay, I received physical and occupational therapy for 2 hours a day, 6 days per week. In addition, I was given a personalized, self-directed exercise regime to do when I was not being seen by the therapy department.

I proved to myself that more exercise and more movement are beneficial in helping me deal with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. I regained and surpassed my prior abilities when it came to walking, handling my activities of daily living, and stamina.

The benefits of increased exercise

Extending the hours in my daily exercise routine has improved my balance and coordination. Balance issues dissipated, my body strength and coordination improved, and support is no longer needed when sitting and standing from a chair or bed. I can also walk unassisted without the use of a walker or cane.

Furthermore, I have not fallen since I increased my level of activity and my endurance for all activities has increased. Parkinson’s fatigue has declined precipitously. Through exercising, my posture was improved and I was able to stand in a more upright fashion.

Stretching exercises were incorporated into my daily routine and it felt good working my rigid muscles while improving joint and muscular movements. The more I exercised, the better I felt. I was not depressed or anxious during the exercise regimen. Interestingly, I believe my bouts of apathy were reduced by exercising as well.

Slowing the progression

I believe that extending the time and frequency of exercising slowed my Parkinson's disease progression by reducing my chance of falling and improving my balance. In my experience, it also decreased my bouts of pain and increased my endurance.

Adding stretching exercises has reduced the stiffness that permeates throughout my body and improved my posture and mobility. Extending my exercise regimen helped me reduce overall stiffness, sped up my walking, and improved my balancing abilities and posture. I am hoping by extending my daily exercising time will help sustain my independence.

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