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Personal Training | Neurological Recovery

Personal Training: Empowering Parkinson's Patients Toward a Healthier Future

August 18th, 2023 | 5 min. read

Personal Training: Empowering Parkinson's Patients Toward a Healthier Future
Jesse Douglas

Jesse Douglas

Director of EW FIT // Motion Specialist // Certified Fitness Specialist // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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Living with Parkinson's disease presents unique challenges, but individuals can maintain and even improve their quality of life with the right approach. Personal training has become a valuable tool for Parkinson's patients, offering tailored exercise routines and professional guidance to help manage symptoms and enhance overall well-being. Our trainers at EW Motion Therapy can adapt exercise programs to your unique movement needs and ensure they are safe for you to do both under supervision and at home. Our personal training might not fit your needs. However, you can still read on as we explore the benefits of personal training for Parkinson's patients, discuss safe exercise adaptations, and provide tips on finding a qualified personal trainer. 


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Why do Parkinson’s patients need adapted exercises? 

Parkinson's is a neurological disorder affecting movement, coordination, and daily life. This condition is characterized by a decrease in the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which plays a crucial role in facilitating smooth and controlled movements. As a result, individuals with Parkinson's experience a range of motor symptoms that can impact their ability to engage in regular physical activities.


Adapted exercise routines are essential for Parkinson's patients for several reasons:


  1. Motor challenges: Parkinson's patients often struggle to initiate and control movements. This can lead to slow, stiff motions and challenging and potentially unsafe traditional exercise routines.
  2. Balance issues: Balance problems are common among Parkinson's patients, increasing the risk of falls and injuries. Adapted exercises focus on improving balance and stability, helping individuals regain confidence in their movement.
  3. Muscle rigidity and weakness: Muscle stiffness and weakness are prevalent symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Adapted exercises can help counteract these effects by targeting specific muscle groups, promoting flexibility, and building strength.
  4. Reduced range of motion: Parkinson's can result in smaller and restricted movements, affecting the ability to perform daily tasks. Adapted exercises emphasizing a larger range of motion help maintain flexibility and prevent further limitations.
  5. Tremors and shaking: Tremors, involuntary shaking movements, are a hallmark of Parkinson's. Adapted exercises focus on controlled, deliberate actions to mitigate the impact of tremors and improve motor coordination.
  6. Cognitive impairment: Parkinson's can lead to mental challenges like multitasking and executive function difficulties. Adapted exercises involving physical and cognitive tasks can help improve cognitive abilities.
  7. Individual variability: Parkinson's symptoms vary widely from person to person. An adapted exercise routine considers each individual's unique challenges, strengths, and limitations.
  8. Safety: Safety is paramount when designing exercise routines for Parkinson's patients. Adapted exercises minimize the risk of falls, injuries, and overexertion, ensuring a more comfortable and secure workout experience.
  9. Quality of life: Engaging in regular physical activity through adapted exercises can improve the overall quality of life for Parkinson's patients. It can increase independence, mood, confidence, and well-being.
  10. Long-term benefits: Regular adapted exercise routines can potentially slow the progression of specific symptoms and improve functional abilities, allowing Parkinson's patients to maintain their independence and engage in activities they enjoy for a more extended time.


Adapted exercise routines address the unique challenges posed by Parkinson's disease. These routines focus on specific symptoms to optimize movement, improve physical and cognitive function, and ultimately enhance the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson's.


Benefits of personal training for Parkinson's patients


  1. Tailored exercise plans: Personal trainers create customized exercise regimens considering individual strengths, limitations, and goals. For Parkinson's patients, this means exercises that target specific symptoms and challenges, fostering a more effective and personalized approach to managing the condition.
  2. Improved mobility and balance: Parkinson's often affects mobility and balance, increasing the risk of falls. Personal trainers design exercises to enhance coordination, flexibility, and balance, which can significantly reduce fall risk and improve overall stability.
  3. Motor skills enhancement: The motor symptoms of Parkinson's, such as tremors and rigidity, can be addressed through targeted exercises focusing on fine and gross motor skills. These exercises promote better control over movement and contribute to daily functional abilities.
  4. Increased strength and endurance: Parkinson's can lead to muscle weakness and reduced stamina. Personal training incorporates strength and endurance training, helping patients build muscle mass, increase overall strength, and boost energy levels.
  5. Cognitive benefits: Physical activity has been linked to improved cognitive function. Personal training sessions that challenge the body and mind can potentially slow the cognitive decline associated with Parkinson's disease.


Safe exercise adaptations for Parkinson's patients


  1. Slow and controlled movements: Parkinson's can lead to difficulties initiating and controlling actions. Exercises should emphasize slow, deliberate motions to enhance motor control and coordination.
  2. Dynamic balance exercises: Incorporate exercises that challenge balance, such as standing on one leg or using balance boards. These activities can help improve stability and prevent falls.
  3. Amplitude training: This approach involves performing movements with a more extensive range of motion, counteracting the tendency for movements to become smaller and restricted in Parkinson's patients.
  4. Dual-task training: Engaging in exercises that require simultaneous physical and cognitive tasks can enhance multitasking abilities, an aspect often affected by Parkinson's.
  5. Regular flexibility exercises: Stretches and yoga-like movements can improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness, common challenges in Parkinson's.
  6. Interval training: Alternating between high-intensity and lower-intensity exercises can improve cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance.


How to find a qualified personal trainer


  1. Certification and credentials: Look for certified trainers from reputable organizations, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE). These certifications indicate a certain level of expertise and knowledge.
  2. Experience with Parkinson's patients: Seek trainers who have experience working with Parkinson's patients or individuals with similar conditions. They will better understand the unique needs and challenges associated with the disease.
  3. Communication skills: An effective personal trainer should be a good communicator who can explain exercises clearly and listen to your concerns and feedback.
  4. Collaboration with healthcare professionals: A qualified trainer should be open to collaborating with your healthcare team to ensure a holistic approach to managing your Parkinson's symptoms.
  5. Personalized approach: Look for a trainer willing to create a tailored exercise plan that considers your needs, preferences, and goals.
  6. Empathy and patience: Parkinson's patients require understanding and patience. A compassionate trainer who can adapt to your pace and needs will make the journey more enjoyable and effective.


Personal training has proven invaluable for Parkinson's patients looking to enhance their physical and mental well-being. By providing tailored exercise routines, addressing specific symptoms, and fostering a supportive environment, personal trainers empower individuals to manage their condition more effectively. Remember to prioritize safety by adapting exercises to suit your needs, and take the time to find a qualified personal trainer who aligns with your goals and requirements. Our personal trainers are certified through national organizations and in-house through our unique training program. If you’re curious about what else personal training can do for you, click the button below to download our answers to 20 frequently asked questions.


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