Staying active at home when you have Parkinson’s

Staying active and exercising is important for our physical and mental wellbeing.

Here, Parkinson’s experts share top tips on being active at home. And some tips are as good for the people you’re living with as they are for you.

Preparing your environment

Before you begin any physical activity, make sure your living space is safe and comfortable for the activity.

  • Move loose rugs and unnecessary furniture to clear enough space. 
  • Keep sturdy chairs ready to hold onto, or to sit and rest on. 
  • Make sure your room is a comfortable temperature - don’t exercise in a room that’s too hot. Open a window if you need to.

  • Check that your shoes and any equipment you’re using are in good condition and right for the activity.

  • Remember to keep any important medication or inhalers close by.

  • Have a telephone or mobile nearby in case of an emergency.

  • Don’t forget to drink water. You can lose around one and a half litres of fluid for every hour of vigorous physical activity, so drink water before, during and after a session.

If you have any other medical conditions, check with an appropriate health professional before starting any new physical activity.

Exercise for your Parkinson’s symptoms

Certain exercises or movements will target specific symptoms.

Remember, it’s important to do a proper warm up before activity or exercise, to make sure your body is loose enough for the task. 

Bradykinesia (slowness and smaller movements of the body)

Bradykinesia tends to affect one side of the body more than the other. The side most affected by Parkinson’s will tire more quickly.

  • If you’re doing physical activity that involves using weights or resistance (eg body weight exercises, dumbbells and resistance bands, or machinery like a rowing machine or cross trainer at home), try hard to keep both sides of your body working evenly.

  • If one side of your body isn’t working as well, slow what you're doing or stop for a moment and refocus. This will help you make sure you’re doing the activity properly. Think quality, not quantity!

  • If the activity involves walking or stepping using alternate legs, try saying to yourself ‘big step’ or ‘heel down’ when you take a step on your most affected leg. This can help to keep step sizes equal on both legs.

  • If you choose to walk along a corridor or in the garden, work out how many large steps it should take you to get from the start to finish of your route. Count your steps out loud as you walk, trying to hit the same number of steps on the way back. 

Rigidity (stiffness)

Rigidity can stop muscles from stretching and relaxing. 

  • Even when doing small activities, like walking to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, stretch up tall each time you stand. Depending on how steady you are on your feet, reach one arm or both up to the ceiling for a better stretch, especially on your side that’s more rigid.

  • If you’ve been sitting for a while, twist your body from side to side 2-3 times then swing each leg backwards and forwards. This will help you loosen up before walking anywhere.


Many people find they have more problems with freezing at home. This can include problems with starting to move or going through doorways. So being active at home may feel harder than when in a large exercise space. 

  • To start a movement, first stand tall with as much weight on your heels as the rest of your foot. Then rock your body from side to side. To trigger a good stepping and walking motion try to take the first step with the leg on your ‘Parkinson’s side’. (The one that can feel the slowest or stiffest).

  • As you’re walking to another room or around the garden, count using a metronome or to the beat of a tune (ideally one you enjoy and that you know you can move well to). Some people mimic the action of ice-skating, as it helps them move more smoothly from one leg to the other. 

Low blood pressure

If you have low blood pressure you might feel dizzy when getting up from lying flat or getting up off the floor. 

  • If the physical activity you want to try is usually done on the floor, try exercising on your bed initially. If you can't get onto or off the floor because you're not fit enough to do so, gradually work towards this skill. This in itself is a great activity. 

Read more about how to do this.

Use online classes and exercise programmes

There are so many helpful online courses and classes you can try at home.

Take a look at our home-based YouTube workout classes, aimed at people of all abilities

Here are other trustworthy sites and apps you can try. 

If you’re newly diagnosed and your symptoms are mild

  • Reach your peak

Reach Your Peak is a tailored online programme for people with mild symptoms of Parkinson’s to do at home.

You have to pay for the programme but you can currently get two short programmes free of charge, with no obligation to remain with the company after this period.

  • PD Warrior app

A Parkinson's-specific exercise programme that challenges your body and mind, developed by specialist Parkinson's physiotherapists. You have to pay for some of the programmes once you’ve downloaded the app. Available on iOS and Android.

If your symptoms are progressing

  • NHS.UK

NHS.UK has lots of different how-to guides focusing on strength, flexibility and balance, and also has a gym-free workout

  • The Parkinson’s Society in British Columbia

The Parkinson’s Society has pulled together a list of their most helpful resources on exercising at home.

  • Reach Your Peak’s ‘Be Active’ Programme

A Parkinson’s-specific set of exercises from the Reach Your Peak team. It offers a great way to exercise for those who want a workout that is a little less vigorous than their other programmes.  

  • #StayInWorkOut

Tips, advice and guidance on how to keep or get active in and around your home from Sport England.

  • 'Generation games' exercise video

An exercise video led by Sarah Wheatley, a fitness instructor. 

If you’re managing complex physical challenges due to your symptoms

  • Power for Parkinson’s class

Power for Parkinson’s ‘move and shout class’, a 50 minute video of a seated class recorded in Austin, Texas.  

  • Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida seated exercise class

A 20 minute seated class led by Margaret Johnston.

Build activity into your daily life

Think about when you can build physical activity into your day. For example: 

  • Do heel raises while doing the dishes.

  • Stand up to take phone calls or text.

  • Do side lunges while brushing your teeth.

  • Hang the washing out rather than use a dryer.

  • Dance while getting dressed, making a drink or meal.

  • Use household items such as tins or bottles as weights to do bicep curls or shoulder presses.

Remember, using movement and activity is a great way of breaking up your day.

Exercising at home with Parkinson's: your toolkit

Keeping active is important for your physical and mental wellbeing. 

From chair-based aerobics to balance exercises, we’ve brought together a range of video workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Staying active at home

In this print at home resource, we’ve put together some of the best exercises to help you stay active at home when you have Parkinson’s.

Think about how much you can do

Being active for 2.5 hours a week can help manage Parkinson’s symptoms, and has a positive impact both physically and mentally.

Whatever you do to get active, it’s important to do it regularly. Think about:

  • getting a little hot and sweaty so you know your heart rate is up

  • strength training

  • balance training 

Ideally you would include these into most workouts, while varying what you do. (Eg strength training one day, and balance or flexibility the next). You should also have 1 rest day each week.

The most important thing is to keep active and not stay still for too long. Get up and walk around your living room, dining room or hallway, every hour, for at least 2 minutes.