Community Spotlight: The Davis Phinney Foundation

Helping People with Parkinson's Live Well Today

Between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Parkinson’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease. There is no cure, but that does not mean there is no hope. While researchers work to unravel the causes and find a cure, those affected by the disease need not sit on their heels and wait. In fact, there are a great many things people can do to improve their quality of life right now.

Take exercise, for example. As recently as five to 10 years ago, a person with Parkinson’s might never hear about exercise from their neurologist. Today, the positive role exercise can play in managing the disease is increasingly acknowledged, and a growing body of research is emerging to support it. However, information about how to exercise remains scarce. There are books and DVDs available, but many espouse a specific approach or set of moves that may not be appropriate or appealing to the wide variety of individuals who experience Parkinson's disease.

The Davis Phinney Foundation (, whose mission is to help people with Parkinson’s to live well today, has created a new DVD to try to fill the exercise information gap. Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials: Getting Started, Staying Motivated, Seeing Results is more than an “exercise-along” video. The DVD takes a unique approach by not only presenting two distinct workouts, but also exploring some of the many alternatives for incorporating exercise into Parkinson’s self-care to achieve beneficial results. The emphasis is on finding activities that are enjoyable for the individual and are more likely to be sustained over the long term.

Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials was developed in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Ford, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The 80-minute program presents a range of approaches and recognizes that better fitness is achievable, even for those who may not currently be physically active and/or are at more advanced stages of the disease. To that end, the DVD features 13 individuals with Parkinson’s disease, ranging in age from 35 to 74, that demonstrate the workouts and prove that neither age nor disease progression need prevent one from exercising. Five of them share diverse personal stories of overcoming barriers and experiencing the benefits of exercise. Their candid accounts are sure to motivate and encourage viewers to get moving. 

The DVD contains workouts that can be performed at home or in a fitness center, plus suggestions for exercising in the community, specifically by walking, cycling, hiking, and other activities. Guidance and adaptations for a range of ages and stages of Parkinson’s are included, along with recommendations for progressing the workouts over time. Dr. Ford addresses some of the barriers that can prevent people with Parkinson’s from exercising and offers suggestions for overcoming them. He leads viewers through the workouts and explains the science behind them, providing the foundation for a lifelong commitment to exercise.

The fitness center segments of the DVD were filmed on location at the Lakeshore Foundation ( in Birmingham, AL. The Davis Phinney Foundation looked to Lakeshore to provide a best-in-class venue, as well as trainers knowledgeable about Parkinson’s. Dr. Ford already had a relationship with Lakeshore through his work with the Lakeshore Foundation/UAB Research Collaborative. The three organizations found synergy in their shared approaches to exercise as a means to achieve optimum wellness, regardless of individual health challenges. Collaboration on the DVD was a natural choice.

The Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials DVD is available for free from the Davis Phinney Foundation and can be ordered online at or by calling toll-free 855-346-7564.

Viewers can download and print exercise sheets to follow along with the DVD. These and other tools are available on the companion website, Donations are encouraged to help fund the continued availability of the DVD and to support Davis Phinney Foundation-funded Parkinson’s research and programs.

About the Davis Phinney Foundation

The Davis Phinney Foundation was created in 2004 to help people with Parkinson’s disease live well today. Its major initiatives include: the Every Victory Counts® manual, developed by movement disorder experts to provide practical ways to live well with Parkinson’s; the Victory Summit® symposia series, which brings experts into communities to share advances in science and care and to inspire those affected by the disease to take action; the Living Well Challenge™ educational webinar series; the Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials DVD; and the funding of research focused on exercise, speech and other quality of life therapies. Visit the website:

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