Living with Parkinson’s Disease
Everyday choices for better health
For many, a primary goal of living with Parkinson's disease (PD) is to increase the amount of time when your medicine is working, your symptoms are under control, and you can focus on the things that are important to you—your work, family, relationships, interests, and activities. The choices you make every day can help promote your overall health. And with each healthy choice you make, you're letting Parkinson's know, "It's ON."
The information on this site is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended or recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider regarding any medical condition or treatment.
Exercise and activity
It makes sense that taking on Parkinson's may require some training. Following a regular program of physical exercise has been shown to help people with Parkinson's control their motor symptoms better—and longer. Among the exercises used by people living with Parkinson's disease are:
- Balance training
- Resistance exercise
- Tai chi
- Walking on a treadmill
Other benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson's may include:
- Improving digestion
- Improving balance (potentially reducing falls)
- Improving posture (particularly tai chi)
- Improving muscle strength
- Improving the ability to perform some daily activities
- Improving flexibility
- Improving reach
- Increasing walking speed
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. He or she may have some specific recommendations for you, based on your complete medical history.
Coping with stress
Having Parkinson's is more than enough to stress most people. It's important to find a way to relieve or reduce stress that works for you. Techniques that may help include:
- Regular physical activity—may improve mobility and physical functioning
- Tai chi—may also improve balance and posture
- Joining a support group—sharing with others who understand
Most important: Once you find a technique that works for you, remember to use it regularly. Your doctor may be able to suggest classes, therapists, or other techniques to help you cope with stress.
Diet and nutrition
Although there's no "Parkinson's diet," eating nutritionally balanced meals, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, can contribute to your general health.
So can maintaining a healthy weight. Following general healthy eating guidelines can help you stay strong to face the challenges of living with PD.
Your nutritional concerns may change over time, so it's a good idea to ask for guidance from your doctor or to get a referral to a nutritionist. This can be particularly important if you're having trouble maintaining your normal weight. In addition to following a healthy, balanced diet, there are some specific things you can do to help with certain Parkinson's symptoms.
In the table below are some examples of foods that may cause specific problems for some people with Parkinson's disease. Your doctor or nutritionist can give you more information tailored to your specific needs.
|You may want to limit or avoid...||...because|
|Meat, chicken, shellfish, red meat, liver, and dairy products||Protein in these foods may interfere with the absorption of certain medications|
|Lentils, dry beans, chickpeas, and nuts||Protein in these foods may interfere with the absorption of certain medications|
Tomatoes and tomato sauce
Coffee, tea, and cola
|These foods may trigger acid reflux or make it worse|