Maintaining Function with Parkinson’s Disease During COVID-19

Navigating Parkinson’s Disease (PD)can be a challenge. However, with the recent Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), staying healthy and safe can be additionally challenging.  To minimize the functional impact that this pandemic has caused on one’s physical and mental well-being, it is important to follow these simple, practical strategies for success.

Engage in exercise

Exercise has been shown to help with the motor and non-motor symptoms of PD, but has also been shown to help avoid airborne viruses and protect the cardiovascular system. Although social distancing has creating some barriers to attending your weekly exercise groups or physical activities, there are many ways that you can safely exercise at home

Virtual Exercise

Many local communities and organizations are hosting their regularly scheduled exercise programs through virtual meetings such as Zoom®.

Parkinson’s Disease Exercise Programs

Exercise-based programs such as Parkinson’s Wellness Recover (PWR), LSVT BIG & LOUD, SpeakOut! Program have all offered free exercise videos specifically related to PD.

Fitness Friday Videos

As part of the PD Health @ Home program, this free 10-part video series focuses each week on one aspect of fitness designed to support people living with Parkinson’s. Created and taught by Parkinson’s expert each Friday. This series is designed to build on itself and is a great tool for people with Parkinson’s, but also for physical therapists looking for ways to properly support and engage clients living with Parkinson’s on the 10 specific fitness topics below

110 Fitness Videos

Guest blogger for the Michael J. Fox Foundation offers advice for staying active at home and a variety of online workouts featuring modified and unmodified versions for every fitness level.

Maintain Your Routine

Keep a Regular Schedule

As much as possible, keep your regular schedule, despite social distancing closings. Try to engage in your regular appointments or scheduled social events, just virtually or by other means.

Engage in Meaningful Activities

Explore new hobbies, new projects or even volunteer, as engaging in meaningful activities can have tremendous benefits on both motor and non-motor symptoms.

Stay engaged with Others

Social distancing has limited our ability to interact with each out in familiar ways. However, thanks to virtual platforms such as Zoom® or FaceTime, maintaining a social network is still possible.  Reach out to your friends and loved ones to schedule some virtual social time.

Get regular sleep

As impaired sleeping is often a symptom of PD, it can be especially challenging during times of crisis.  To maximize your sleep routine, it is important to:

  • Exercise daily
  • Minimize News Intake
  • Keep a regular sleep & wake cycle
  • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep, sex or sickness
  • Clear your mind

For more information on PD related to sleep tips, visit the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Protect Yourself

Stay Indoors

Stay indoors and maintain social distancing as often as possible.

Pay Attention to Your Emotions

PD can impact your emotions, leading to increased tendency for depression, apathy or anxiety.  With COVID-19, your emotions can be even more fragile.  During this time, it is important to reach out for help or speak to someone regarding your emotions.

During this time, many virtual resources are available, including Mindfulness Mondays on Parkinson’s Foundation’s website.

If you are in a crisis or need immediate assistance with your emotional state, reach out to 9-1-1 or one of the resources below.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.


About the Author


Heather Simpson, OTR/L

Heather Simpson graduated with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in Early Education from the University of Florida in 2007. Following…

Read all articles by Heather Simpson, OTR/L