Training Special Populations: Parkinson’s Exercise Recommendations

Training special populations is one of the fastest-growing segments of the personal training industry.  Personal trainers must be knowledgeable about creating an exercise program that is both safe and effective for these special populations.  A special population refers to particular groups of people with special fitness and exercise needs and typically requires a greater level of supervision. This group includes those with diseases like heart disease, diabetes and other prevalent diseases and extends to those with injuries and specific situations like pregnancy, postpartum, seniors, etc.

One of my all time memorable clients was Bob.  Bob was 83 years old when I first started training him.  When he retired from teaching at age 65, his boyfriend at the time gave him a gift of personal training sessions. Bob became hooked on Fitness.  He trained 3 times a week with a trainer for nearly 2 decades before I met him.  I had the great fortune of becoming Bob’s trainer after his current trainer decided to purse acting full time.

At 80, Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The American College of Sports Medicine resource library provided the information I needed to ensure I designed Bob with a safe workout.  While Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, stiffness, slow movement and balance problems, exercise and physical activity can improve many motor and non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms.  Bob was a testament to that fact.

The ACSM makes the following recommendations for your clients who have Parkinson’s

  1.  Aerobic Activity 3 days/week for at least 30 mins per session of continuous or intermittent at moderate to vigorous intensity
  2. Strength Training: 2-3 non-consecutive days/week for at least 30 mins per session of 10-15 reps for major muscle groups; resistance, speed or power focus
  3. Balance, Agility & Multitasking: 2-3 days/week with daily integration if possible.
  4. Stretching: >2-3 days/week with daily being most effective

Todays’ Blog Post is dedicated to Bob who passed away last year.  Bob was not only a client but a true friend who dedicated his life to teaching and personal wellness.

Check out the ACMS infographic:

The AFNA Fitness and Nutrition Trainer Program curriculum provides students the information on how to program design for special populations as prescribed by the American College of Sports Medicine.