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Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is known as a motor system disorder and there is currently no cure. When individuals have decreased levels of dopamine changes start to begin. A tremor of the hands, face, legs, and other body parts may be noticeable at first then more pronounced symptoms become apparent when the disease progresses. At this point, individuals may have trouble walking, talking and participating in daily activities.

Exercise is known to help ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In my experience, clients work on physical as well as vocal exercise. Each of my clients is doing something daily. It is good to mix up your workouts so you practice different movements. You may find yourself working with a Physical Therapist as well as Personal Trainer.

caruso-exercise-parkinsonsWhen working out in the gym, it is important to start with a ten minute warm- up and shorter sessions, slowly working up to a thirty minute workout. Seeking the help of a personal trainer is very beneficial since each person with Parkinson’s is different. Personal Trainers can prescribe safe exercises, and show you what level you should begin working out.

My client, Mary, works on a combination of different exercises such as, weight and cardiovascular training, Rock Steady Boxing (a kickboxing class for Parkinson’s Disease), LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD. We rotate exercises each session so I can see what she is practicing and go over it with her.

The LSVT exercises are originally given by a Physical or Occupational Therapist. These are big movement exercises to help with stiffness and prevent shuffling of the feet. LSVT LOUD are vocal exercises which are prescribed by a Speech Language Pathologist. Click here to find an LSVT Practitioner in your area.

It is important to remember to take certain precautions when working out at home. Pick up your feet if you take walks to avoid falling and have someone go with you. Make sure to remove throw rugs in the room you choose to exercise in. Practice balance exercises near something that is sturdy to hold on to. Avoid working out in rooms with poor lighting so you do not trip.

In conclusion, exercise, is very important for anyone with Parkinson’s Disease. The more you move, the less stiff your joints will become. Land and pool exercises are a great choice for increasing flexibility, mobility, and balance. When working out at home, choose a safe environment that has bright lights and non slip floors.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness. Contact Robyn by email at: tsmi.caruso@aol.com



Aerobics Pilates personal trainer helping women group

Pilates for Breast Cancer Survivors

Pilates training can be an excellent way to achieve the postural re-education and muscle-balancing necessary to recover from the side effects of breast cancer treatment. Pilates can help alleviate pain from breast cancer operative procedures, restore joint mobility and tissue integrity, and help regain lost strength. Most importantly, Pilates can be a gateway for a true “Return to Life” for many women, as the title of Joseph Pilates’ popular book states. However, Pilates instructors should be on the lookout for some often coincident injuries that will require additional special knowledge about the shoulder complex in order to work safely and effectively with the growing population of breast cancer survivors.


Living With Diabetes: The Nutritional Aspect

In our lifetime, we all must have come across people suffering from Diabetes- type 1 or type 2- the agony that they have to go through is unfathomable. The rising global epidemic of diabetes has a direct correlation to physical inactivity, improper eating habits and increase in obesity. Around 347 million people worldwide have diabetes and according to the WHO, diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death by the year 2030.

mid age man exercising at the beach

The Power of Why: Motivation for Better Health

As a movement practitioner, I love it when my clients become my teachers. One conversation with someone going through the process of changing their life and fighting challenges may prompt, lead, or sometimes shove me into examining my practice, my approach, and my connection with the people I serve. Just recently Mary, one of my clients, wanted to meet with me to discuss her progress and our conversation inspired this article.

Home care

From Couch to Coach: The Benefits of Health Coaching for Improving Physical Activity in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

The benefits of health coaching for managing chronic diseases has been growing in popularity for the past decade and contrary to popular belief, a health coach is not someone who is just providing guidance on weight loss. The concept of activation is a crucial component to managing healthy behaviors and for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or other neurological conditions, the ability to adhere to exercise programs can be a challenge.

According to Terry Ellis, assistant professor at Sargent College and Director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation, a virtual coach was effective in helping individuals diagnosed with PD adhere to a daily walking regimen. After one month of coaching, Ellis’ study demonstrated a 100 percent retention rate among participants due to the ability of the coach to build social and emotional relationships.

For those living with neurological conditions, both the availability and accessibility to exercise programs for this population can be a limiting factor. For those with advanced symptoms, driving themselves to an exercise class is not possible and can place an added strain on their caregiver to coordinate such processes. A health coach can be just what is needed to link the patient to the outside world by which they feel connected socially and emotionally. This can provide enough motivation for them to engage in the necessary level of exercise the can significantly reduce symptoms related to PD or other neurological conditions.

Health coaching for this population should focus primarily on:

  • Managing the severity and variability of symptoms through a day, week or month and counsel the patient on how to stay on track with healthy behaviors
  • Ensuring adequate social and emotional support and possibly connecting them to community resources such as respite programs, support groups, or educational classes
  • Connecting them to experts that can help them remain physically active while avoiding injury or falls
  • Support the needs of the caregiver through the progression of the disease and guide additional services that may be required should symptoms worsen
  • Health coaches are not expected to be experts in the disease itself, but rather an outlet for the patient to express their needs and ensure the highest quality of life possible.



Ellis, T. (2013). Feasibility of a virtual exercise coach to promote walking in community dwelling persons with Parkinson Disease. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Vol. 92, Issue 6, pp. 472-485. Doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31828cd466.


PHIT America and Medical Fitness Network Share Joint Vision

SILVER SPRING, MD (December 1, 2015)PHIT America has found a partner in the medical community that shares the same mindset and vision of a healthy and active American population. That partner is the Medical Fitness Network.

Both PHIT America and the Medical Fitness Network are dedicated to educating Americans about the power and importance of exercise and having a physically active lifestyle.

“We at PHIT America are focused on educating Americans about the importance of reversing the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ which is affecting 83 million Americans,” states Jim Baugh, Founder, PHIT America.

“Exercise has an essential role in the treatment and prevention of many chronic medical conditions,” says Lisa Dougherty, Founder/CEO, Medical Fitness Network. “Exercise also improves overall health and quality of life. These benefits are applicable to people of all ages and most all states of health.”

“We share a mutual goal of educating people about healthy living, the importance of exercise and finding help if you face chronic diseases/medical conditions and their risk factors,” adds Baugh. “We are pleased to offer those who come to our website this important community resource of fitness, complementary health and wellness professionals that the MFN provides.”

Both PHIT America and MFN are in complete agreement when it comes to pursuing the following goals:

  • Educate Americans about the issues of physical inactivity and compel them to be active, fit, and playing more sports to achieve better health
  • Get one million children active by 2020! This will be achieved by promoting and supporting grassroots and school-based programs which will get more children active, fit and healthy
  • Help to pass common-sense U.S. legislation (PHIT Act) which will result in more active and fit Americans which will prevent health care costs
  • Bring together companies, organizations, celebrities, local ‘influencers’ and concerned Americans to work on a common approach to get America more active, fit and healthy

“The Medical Fitness Network is excited to have both our fitness and healthcare professional members and consumer visitors learn more about the work, research and resources of PHIT America,” adds Dougherty.

About the Medical Fitness Network

The mission of the MFN is to improve the quality of life for those with chronic medical conditions or who need pre or postnatal care by connecting them to qualified fitness & healthcare professionals. MFN provides a free national network of exemplary fitness and healthcare professionals with a background in treatment and rehabilitation of various diseases and medical conditions.

About PHIT America

Founded in January 2013, PHIT America is a non-profit campaign focused on overcoming the severe ramifications of the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ through three strategic approaches – education, supporting school-based activity programs, and advocating – which will get Americans, especially our youth, more active, fit and healthy. For more information about PHIT America, visit www.PHITAmerica.org.

PHIT America, 8505 Fenton Street, Suite 211, Silver Spring, MD 20910 www.phitamerica.org

Media Contact:
Mike May
PHIT America