Exercise can help people with Parkinson’s disease manage their symptoms, but certain adjustments need to be made in their workouts. A new association-led training program aims to educate the fitness community to meet those needs.
Parkinson’s disease (PD)—a neurodegenerative disorder commonly marked by tremors, limb rigidity, and gait and balance problems—will affect nearly 1 million people in the United States by the year 2020, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Although there is no cure for the condition, exercise can help people experiencing Parkinson’s manage their symptoms.
Now, the American Parkinson Disease Association is launching a free online training program to educate health and wellness professionals on Parkinson’s-specific exercise regimens. The program, APDA Parkinson’s Disease Training for Fitness Professionals, was developed by Parkinson’s experts to educate fitness professionals about how the exercise needs of people with the condition differ from those without, and how to develop workout routines that can improve their quality of life.
“As the evidence about the positive impact of exercise on people with PD started growing, we identified a gap of educational resources and easily accessible guidance for the fitness community,” said APDA President and CEO Leslie A. Chambers said in a press release. “In order to have the biggest reach and impact the most people, we knew whatever we created had to be user-friendly and evidence-based.”
The program, a one- to two-hour online course with instructional videos, will also help the fitness community identify Parkinson’s symptoms so that people experiencing the condition feel supported.
“People with PD who exercise do better over the long term compared to those who don’t,” Terry Ellis, cochair of the training program, said in the release. “So of course, we want to get as many people exercising as possible, but we want to make sure they are doing it safely, and doing the types of exercises that are going to be most effective for their symptoms and specific situations. This online program will enable us to get this critical information in the hands of so many people, who like us, are trying hard to help people with PD live their best, healthiest life.”