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Safely Beat the Weather – And Parkinson’s Disease – This Winter

February 14, 2023

Exercise helps everyone feel better, but when you have Parkinson’s disease, staying active is one of the best ways to manage symptoms and even prevent or slow disease progression.

While it’s easier to stay active in warmer weather, it can be a challenge to find the motivation to get up and move during colder, darker months. However, remaining active is critical to your health, so it’s important to find ways.

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Tips for winter exercising

  • Keep a routine. Even if you’re on vacation or have family visiting, make time to exercise. Just as you make time to bathe, eat and enjoy your favorite show, dedicate time each day to exercise.
  • Try something new. One benefit of indoor workouts is the chance to try new things like stationary cycling, aquatic fitness, dance, yoga, tai-chi or boxing. Try things until you find something motivating to you.
  • Find an exercise buddy. Having an exercise buddy – a friend, family member or group class – can help hold you accountable and keep you motivated.
  • Get outside when you can. There are often warmer, brighter days in even the worst winters that allow a walk outside. Make sure to take advantage!

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Stay safe

Winter adds some safety concerns for anyone exercising outdoors. Remember these tips:

  • Beware of balance in the dark. Fall prevention is an important part of living with PD. Navigating a dark home can be extra dangerous with balance difficulties. Try to plan outdoor activity during the day and keep rooms and hallways well-lit at home.
  • Be careful of slippery conditions. Ice can be especially hazardous if you have trouble with balance. Walk on cleared paths when possible, wear shoes with non-slip tread and bring a cane or walker. Avoid shaded areas because they can be extra slippery.
  • Keep warm. Parkinson’s affects the nervous system, which can make you more sensitive to cold. Wear layers, heat the areas of your home where you spend the most time, and move regularly. Light exercise can be a great way to keep warm!
  • Keep a winter emergency kit handy. Include emergency, battery-operated lights, spare batteries, medication, water and non-perishable food.
  • Watch for winter blues. Depression is common in Parkinson’s disease, and the shorter days, colder weather and limited socialization can leave you feeling down. Talk to your provider right away if you feel depressed and, remember that exercise can be a tool against depression!

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