Capital Area Parkinson's Society


July 2022

A word from Natalie Hodge

The benefits of exercise as part of a healthy life-style are well known. For many, knowing what form of exercise and where to start can be quite intimidating. For those with Parkinson's disease the idea of incorporating new, unfamiliar, and often intimidating movements can create a barrier that may seem insurmountable. Where do you start, when starting in itself feels impossible? In this post, we will discuss the benefits of building strength for those with Parkinson's disease and considerations to take when starting a new exercise program.

Parkinson's disease is characterized by four cardinal symptoms: tremors, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability. Strength training is a form of exercise that performs movements against a form of resistance (bodyweight, free weights, machine resistance, band resistance, etc.). Strength training offers a variety a benefits to the individual with Parkinson's disease. As with the general population, strength training improves strength and endurance. It reduces the risk for other chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease. Strength training also affects the brain by making dopamine more efficiently available, increasing the number of D2 (dopamine) receptors, and protecting dopamine neurons from damage.

For the individual with Parkinson's disease strength training offers a number of benefits:

  • Tremors: Studies have shown that strength training just twice per week, for a 6 month period, provided improvements in motor symptoms including tremors. These benefits have shown to last up 2 years.
  • Bradykinesia: Another study showed participants in a progressive strength training program saw a reduction in bradykinesia symptoms after 9 weeks.
  • Rigidity: Strength training may also improve functional performance and muscle power, according to a study in Spain, showing significant improvement in fast rhythm walking in clients with akinesia and rigidity.
  • Postural Instability: Modifications to strength training programs can be made to accommodate for unilateral (one-sided) training for the client who presents with unilateral symptoms. This allows for compensatory exercises that may lead to long term improvements in unilateral symptoms, improving balance, and reducing risk for falls.
  • Progressive strength training programs have also demonstrated changes similar to those of dopaminergic medications. This effect may allow for modified or reduced medications in consultation with a physician. This has been seen to be most effective when strength training is implemented early on in the diagnostic stage.

Are you considering starting a strength training program or new exercise routine? My advice is to take the guess work and fear out of your journey by partnering with a personal trainer who understands Parkinson's disease. Your personal trainer can help guide you through safe, effective exercises. Always start with a consultation with your physician. Request information on your symptoms and medications and how they might affect you and accommodations that might need to be made. Share this information with your personal trainer.

Remember the benefits of exercise and strength training are for everyone; find a buddy and partner up for additional support. Building strength with Parkinson's disease is an empowering journey; be patient, be persistent, be strong.

Natalie is a Registered Nurse and Certified Personal Trainer with Well Built Coaching. She has worked with individuals with Parkinson's disease for more than a decade and is passionate about supporting her clients through health changes, life challenges and the pursuit of their wellness goals.

Natalie Hodge, RN
Founder, Well Built Coaching

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Thursday, July  21st, 12 PM- 1:30 PM

Central Texas Rehabilitation Hospital

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Austin, TX 78751

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(512) 371-3373

NURSE CARE MANAGEMENT IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND AUSTIN TEXAS PNP is a professional nurse owned care management organization serving Southern California and Austin Texas areas. We specialize in assisting older adults and their families by providing unique care management services that enable our clients to live a life of quality in their own homes, an assisted living facility, or wherever they call home.

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Worth the read

Exciting new software with Apple watches. Apple received the clearance from the FDA. This new software on an Apple watch will automatically track the patients symptoms like tremors, and it lets the patients report these symptoms as well as medication usage. This could be very helpful information to have for appointments with Neurologist.

StrivePD uses Apple’s Movement Disorder API.

Support groups

Women & Men’s Care Partner Group

Meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 11:00am

Hosted by PNP

People with Parkinson’s Group

Meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 3:00pm

Hosted by PNP

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