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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



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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.


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Diabetes, if left unmanaged, has many serious complications such as loss of vision. It is imperative for anyone with diabetes to follow their doctor’s treatment plan. The plan may include dietary changes, exercise and medication. Exercise is important as it will help your body to use sugars naturally. It also has many other health benefits such as stress management, decreasing high blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis.