The Benefits of Exercise Related to Parkinson’s Disease

Senior man taking a cycling class at the Y

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects one’s movement. It occurs when nerve cells that produce dopamine in the brain break down or die. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is not fully understood or known but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but physical therapy, medication and physical activity can work together to reduce and temporarily relieve symptoms.

Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease

Despite the mobility challenges associated with Parkinson's, exercise is not only possible but vital. Research continues to show that regular exercise benefits the physical and mental health of those living with Parkinson's.

Exercise can help to improve mobility and flexibility - while also helping to relieve symptoms such as tremors. In addition, regular exercise may provide the following health benefits.

  • Enhanced balance and coordination
  • Stronger muscles and cardiovascular health
  • Improved mood
  • Improved gastrointestinal symptoms

Parkinson’s Cycle at the YMCA

YGBW offers Parkinson's Cycle at the West Chester Area YMCA. Classes are organized into sessions, which last 12 weeks. During each session, participants meet twice per week - on Mondays and Fridays at Noon.

Parkinson's Cycle vs. General Spin Class

Each Parkinson's cycle class lasts one hour, focusing on intervals - periods of work followed by periods of rest. Work is performed in blocks to build endurance within each class - and throughout the 12-week session. Another key difference is that there is no standing during Parkinson's Cycle. All exercises are performed from a seated position on the bike.

While general spin classes are led by just one instructor, two instructors are present during every Parkinson's Cycle class to help riders adjust their bikes and to provide a supportive environment. Instructors are trained to work with the unique needs of those living with Parkinson's. They help focus on fun, announcing kudos at the end of each session, including Fastest Feet, Longest Ride, Most Watts, Perfect Attendance and more!

Benefits of Parkinson's Cycle
In addition to helping patients manage symptoms, attending class regularly provides social and emotional support. Participants enjoy being in a supportive group where they can make friends, lunch plans and more. 

If a regular exercise program sounds beneficial to you, be sure to consult your physician.