Tips for staying healthy with Parkinson’s disease

A healthy lifestyle—with diet, exercise, and sleep—can help to improve general well-being for people with Parkinson’s disease and for those who care for them.

Nutrition tips for Parkinson's disease

No foods can treat Parkinson’s disease, but some foods might help with the symptoms.

Tips for a healthy diet
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber, and drink an adequate amount of fluids to help prevent constipation
  • Take medications with a full glass of water to help your body break down medicines more efficiently
  • Limit sugar, alcohol, and caffeine, particularly before bed to help avoid sleep interruptions
  • Consider taking vitamin D to help maintain bone health
  • Snack on small quantities of nuts
  • Maintain a balanced diet with nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids

It’s important to monitor weight, especially weight loss, since malnutrition can worsen the symptoms of
Parkinson’s disease.

Talk to a healthcare professional about diet and any weight loss you or a loved one with Parkinson's disease may experience.

Exercise tips for Parkinson's disease

Exercising can increase muscle strength, flexibility, and balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Exercise can also improve well-being and help reduce depression or anxiety.

Tips on exercises for Parkinson’s disease
  • Consider exercises such as walking, swimming, gardening, dancing, water aerobics, or stretching
  • Try not to move too quickly
  • Check posture and focus on standing up straight
  • Look in front, not directly down, when walking

Talk to a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program. Because staying active is so important in Parkinson’s disease, your doctor may suggest you work with a physical therapist to find an exercise program that is helpful for you.

Parkinson's and sleep problems

Sleep disturbance is a common problem for people with Parkinson's disease. Poor sleep can affect
health, mood, and overall quality of life, so good rest is important.

Tips to try to get the right amount of sleep
  • Try to sleep about 8 hours every night
  • Take 1-2 naps during the day to stay refreshed
  • Reduce exposure to caffeine and other stimulants like nicotine
  • Avoid exercise and heavy meals before bedtime
  • When going to sleep, turn off electronics that may disrupt your sleep

Talk to a healthcare professional if you or a loved one with Parkinson’s disease experiences trouble sleeping.

Parkinson's and stress
Avoid falls

In later stages of Parkinson’s disease, people may fall more easily. The following could help:

  • Make a U-turn instead of pivoting
  • Distribute weight evenly between both feet, and don't lean
  • Avoid carrying things while walking
  • Avoid walking backwards
Manage stress

Stress is known to worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, so it’s important to manage stress.

Express your feelings

It can be difficult to live with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s disease. It’s normal to feel discouraged, depressed, or angry. Talk to your doctor about any changes in your mood.

Share the caregiving burden

While it is important for people with Parkinson’s disease to take care of their mental health, it’s also important that the people who care for them consider their own emotional well-being. People with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners may benefit from talking to a mental health professional.