Living a healthful lifestyle is thought to help control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Lifestyle changes seem to be particularly helpful in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease and may help you delay the start of medications.

General Guidelines for Managing Parkinson’s Disease

Get Adequate Rest

Try to sleep approximately eight hours per night. Consider taking a nap or two during the day to stay refreshed. Consult your doctor if symptoms (such as restless leg syndrome , tremor, or difficulty turning in bed at night) are interfering with your ability to sleep.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Consider consulting a dietitian to learn about a healthful diet. Eating well can give you more energy and help you manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Later in the disease, due to swallowing difficulties, changes may have to be made to the type of diet (eg, soft, chopped, thickened liquids). It is important to keep an eye on the weight, especially weight loss. Malnutrition can worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

Exercise Regularly

Ask your doctor to recommend a physical therapist who can help you design an appropriate exercise program. Increasing strength, improving your stamina, optimizing coordination, decreasing rigidity, improving flexibility, and learning about fall prevention can all be extremely helpful.

Manage Your Stress

Stress is known to worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Learning stress management can help control your symptoms.

Facing a chronic, progressive disease is very stress provoking. Many people with chronic diseases experience depression , which is extremely common in people with Parkinson’s disease. Talk to your doctor about support groups in your area. It can be extremely valuable to share your challenges and triumphs with others who are also coping with the condition.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Call your doctor if the lifestyle changes you’ve instituted are not improving your symptoms, or if new symptoms appear.