Parkinson’s disease exercisesIs it More Than a Simple Shake?

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Imagine trying to sip your morning coffee but you can’t keep your hands from shaking or trying to walk to your mailbox but worrying your legs won’t be able to carry you.

This is a reality for nearly 1 million Americans who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Every year, more folks face similar hurdles as 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Currently, there is no cure for the illness — the second most common neurodegenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s disease. But you can fight back, even if you’ve been diagnosed. It’s a matter of not letting the symptoms get the best of you and seeking the right help.


 Exercise is more than just fitness. It is a physiological tool in the fight against Parkinson’s disease," said Becky Farley, Ph.D., the founder and chief research officer of Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR!).

Learn the Signs

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease isn’t fully understood. However, experts know low levels of dopamine — a chemical that helps the nerve cells in your brain communicate and tells your body how to move — contribute to it, causing tremors, stiff arms and legs, balance issues, and slow movements. Symptoms develop at around age 60 and can lead to difficulties walking and talking, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Family history and gender can also put you at greater risk. The condition is more common in men.

Movement is Medicine

Staying active can ease symptoms and improve your quality of life, said Becky Farley, Ph.D., the founder and chief research officer of Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR!). An expert on the illness, Farley came to Chico in 2018 to present on Parkinson’s disease and runs PWR!Gym, a neurofitness center in Arizona for people with the condition.

In her program, participants perform exercises to target skills that deteriorate because of the disease and interfere with everyday movement. These “PWR!Moves” focus on extension, weight shifting, trunk rotation and transition. The result? Improved mobility.

“Exercise is more than just fitness,” Farley said. “It is a physiological tool in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.”

Though there is no gym like Farley’s in Chico, you can get similar help by seeing a physical therapist. Unfortunately, few do. “Only about 65% of people with Parkinson’s disease go to therapy, one time,” she said.


 We work toward improving patients’ ability to walk, balance and perform activities of daily living," said Kitty Sos, a physical therapist with Enloe Outpatient Therapy Services.

Enloe Offers Support

That’s a stat Kitty Sos, a physical therapist with Enloe Outpatient Therapy Services, hopes will rise. She encourages people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or are showing symptoms of the condition to seek early intervention with a therapist who specializes in the illness.

Enloe has six such therapists on staff, and they help patients work on amplitude movements to combat the stiffness, slow movement, and walking and posture difficulties that come with Parkinson’s disease.

“We work toward improving patients’ ability to walk, balance and perform activities of daily living,” she said. “We also focus on improving a patient’s aerobic capacity and strength, as research demonstrates that exercise has a neuroprotective effect in our brains. Anyone with Parkinson’s disease is encouraged to speak with their primary care physician about a referral to Enloe Outpatient Therapy Services. It’s important to make sure they are scheduled with one of our specialists who can develop an individual plan of care to address their individual needs.”

To learn more about the physical therapy services Enloe offers, visit www.enloe.org/therapy or call (530) 332-6110.

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