top of page

Exercise and YOPD


Evidence now suggests that vigorous exercise is a vital component for people living with PD and can improve both motor and non-motor PD symptoms.


Come box with us

Vigorous and intense boxing training is combined with intentional mind-body strengthening and goal-oriented coordination techniques with the goal of slowing disease progression, lessening symptom severity, enhancing safety, prolonging independence, encouraging socialization and promoting physical, emotional and cognitive well-being.

YOPD and Exercise

Image by Karsten Winegeart

Importance of  exercise for those living with Parkinson’s Disease

Historically, exercise and physical therapy were viewed as “adjunctive” or “helpful”. Recently, there has been a significant increase in research and clinical interest in using exercise as a treatment for symptoms of PD.  Evidence now suggests that vigorous exercise is a vital component for people living with PD and can improve both motor and non-motor PD symptoms. The Parkinson’s Foundation’s “Parkinson’s Outcomes Project,” the largest-ever clinical PD study, shows that those who start exercising earlier experience a slowed decline in quality of life compared to those who start later.


Establishing early exercise habits is an essential part of overall disease management. Research shows that 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise per week can slow the progression of the disease. With this knowledge, many neurologists are now recommending exercise as part of their treatment plans.

What types of exercise are good for those living with PD?

To help manage the symptoms of PD, your exercise program should address all of the following elements of fitness.


Sample  exercises include:

  • Flexibility

  • Stretching

  • Yoga

  • Cardiovascular endurance

  • Cycling

  • Walking/jogging/hiking

  • Aerobics classes

  • Strength

  • Resistance training with bands

  • Weight training

  • Pilates

  • Balance

  • Tai Chi


Some exercises that incorporate multiple elements of fitness listed above plus coordination and cognitive challenge:

  • Non-contact boxing

  • Dance


How much exercise is recommended?

The 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides the following guidelines for adults (with and without medical conditions):

  • Adults should do at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity, aerobic physical activity; or be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

  • Adults should perform muscle-strengthening activities of moderate (or greater) intensity that involve all major muscle groups, 2 or more days a week.

Adults should perform multi-component physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Challenges of Exercising

People in the early stages of PD tend to be just as strong and physically fit as healthy individuals of the same age. However early symptoms of PD such as tremor, stiffness, loss of balance, particularly in YOPD, may result in reluctance to attend “regular” fitness classes or gym sessions. In this case it is helpful to find a PD-specific exercise program.


Disease progression can lead to physical changes which make exercising more difficult. However it is critical to continue exercising despite these challenges in order to help slow their advancement.

  • Loss of joint flexibility, which can affect balance.

  • Decreased muscle strength or deconditioning which can affect walking and the ability to stand up from sitting.

  • Decline in cardiovascular conditioning, which affects endurance.

Tips for getting started

Before starting an exercise program, consult your neurologist and primary care doctor about concerns and recommendations.

  • Ask your doctor or members in your support group to refer to a physical therapist (PT) who knows about PD. Work together to identify your concerns and limitations. Target exercises to improve them. For most people, a structured exercise program will include aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) and resistance training (using weights or bands).

  • Purchase a pedometer (step-counter) and figure out how many steps you take on average each day, then build up from there. Many smartphones or smartwatches have a built-in pedometer feature or an application that can be downloaded.

  • Exercise indoors and outdoors. Change your routine to stay interested and motivated.

Again, most importantly pick an exercise you enjoy.

Additional Information:

More Resources for YOPD

bottom of page