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Exercise benefits both the physical and psychological well-being of people with Parkinson's disease (PD). PD affects a person's ability for moving, walking, motor coordination, and balance. Because of this, exercise helps to keep muscles strong and to improve flexibility and mobility. Exercise possibly can help keep PD from progressing, according to research reported by the National Parkinson Foundation. In addition, exercise improves balance, helping people overcome gait problems and strengthen the muscles that aid in swallowing and speaking. Exercise also can prevent some of the secondary long-term complications of PD such as stiffening of the joints. Patients also receive the emotional satisfaction of feeling they have accomplished something.
Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Your doctor might make recommendations about:
The type of exercise that works best for you depends on your symptoms, fitness level, and overall health. Generally, exercises that stretch the limbs through the full range of motion are encouraged. For patients whose illness limits their ability to exercise, referral to a physical therapist can help by designing an exercise program that you can do. The final precaution, when you get the OK to begin exercising, is to go slowly.
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