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Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease: February 26, 2019

It can cause difficulty standing, walking, and moving—Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million patients worldwide. “With Parkinson’s comes decreased drive and motivation. They’ve already been given this diagnosis which is progressive, and they have seen people in the past or people around them that have the diagnosis, and there’s a lot of fear with it,” said Janice Smeigh, a physical therapist with Lee Health.

Smeigh works with patients to help them maintain strength and mobility. “It’s absolutely vital. If we could take exercise and put it in a pill form, it would be the number one prescription for everybody,” she said.

Exercise is particularly important for patients living with Parkinson’s disease. “For Parkinson’s, it’s important because we have to use our muscles the way that we’re going to use them when we are functioning, so if we are getting up and down off the floor that takes a lot of quad strength and a lot of glute strength,” said Smeigh.

Because Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder, physical therapists encourage patients to get started on an exercise routine as soon as they are diagnosed. “Our goal with exercise is to slow down the progression which is vital in the longevity of Parkinson’s disease,” she said.

Patients are encouraged to do an exercise they enjoy 35 to 45 minutes a day. “Every day, no excuses, and you want 35 to 45 minutes of high-intensity exercise, which is important, it’s not just stretching. Go to boxing. Go to a tai chi class. Go dancing class. Do what you love to do because that’s going to inspire you to continue to do it,” said Smeigh.

The goal is to protect patients from injuries and help them maintain their mobility and independence for as long as possible.

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