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Balance Exercises for Parkinson's
People who are living with Parkinson's disease sometimes have a hard time maintaining their balance. This can be caused by the stiffness and trouble coordinating movement that often occurs with this condition. Performing daily balance exercises for Parkinson's disease can help prevent falls. Balance can be improved at any age, no matter what your current level of fitness. Before starting any exercise program, check with your doctor or physical therapist.
Exercise can not cure Parkinson's disease but it can improve balance and help people walk better, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In general, walking is good exercise, and tandem walking may help improve balance. Lightly hold onto a counter or use the walls if you have a narrow hallway. As you step forward, touch your right heel to the front of your left toe. Keep both feet flat on the floor and in a straight line--pretend you are walking on a tightrope. Continue walking forward, alternating feet and touching the heel to the toe. If you feel steady enough, you can also go backwards. Reach your foot back and touch the toe to the back of your other heel. Stand up straight and avoid looking down at your feet, as this causes you to lean too far forward. Do this exercise as slowly as you can, at least once per day.
Squats and Sit-to-Stand Exercise
According to the National Parkinson's Disease Association, regular exercise helps reduce the risk of a fall. Strong muscles help you maintain balance, and squats help strengthen the major muscles of your legs. Stand up straight with a chair behind you for safety. Bend your knees and reach your hips back as if you were about to sit in the chair. Keep your back straight and your head up. Reach your arms out in front to help balance yourself. Push into your heels to come all the way back up. Try for 8 to 12 repetitions. As you get stronger, try to lower all the way down and lightly sit at the edge of the chair. If this is hard, widen your stance for a better base. As your balance improves, bring your feet closer together.
Taking a Tai chi class designed for seniors or people with Parkinson's disease can also help improve balance. Tai chi is a gentle form of movement that incorporates deep breathing and meditation. The University of New Mexico suggests that tai chi can help because it encourages good posture and requires constantly transferring weight from one leg to the other. Both can improve mobility and stability. If you have Parkinson's disease, you may have a tendency not to pick up your feet and scuff your toes as you walk. This can lead to trips and falls. Tai chi encourages slow walking by picking up the feet and landing with a heel strike. Over time, this can help you walk in a safer and steadier manner.
Kitchen Counter Exercise
The more often you can do exercises to help your balance, the better. You can take advantage of the time you spend in the kitchen preparing meals. Keeping a light grip on the counter, try standing on just one foot. See if you can stay on one foot for at least 30 seconds, using the counter as little as possible. Switch to the other foot.
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.