Yoga, Exercise, and Recreation for Parkinson's Disease

Photo by Amy Zeiger
(Site version 02/24/2018)

When we, Paul and Carolyn Zeiger, confronted Paul's diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, we combined our professional skills and life experience to manage his condition. We built this site to share our findings, and over several years it has grown into a resource for those with Parkinson's, their care partners, and teachers of yoga and other disciplines who wish to employ those disciplines in the management of Parkinson's.

Paul has a slogan, "When you have Parkinson's, everything is therapy." What he means is that your activities of daily living--every single one of them--provide you with an opportunity to add a little more grace, a little more strength, a little better body alignment, and a little more safety.

Note: Phrases with blue underlines can be clicked on for additional detail.

For those diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (PD), components of lifestyle -- diet, sleep habits, exercise, recreation, and learning, to name a few -- stand alongside medication as important resources in managing the condition. Early to recognize this was John Argue, an acting coach, who found that the same kind of conscious control of the body that he was teaching to actors could be taught to those with PD, to their benefit. Physical Therapists made similar observations, and over the years evidence has accumulated demonstrating the effectiveness of a variety of activities. Carolyn added to Paul's yoga program from her own long experience with Jin Shin Jyutsu

For a quick overview of what others with PD have been curious about, please read our frequently asked questions. This site has also been useful to yoga teachers and to exercise professionals with teacher's questions. Or, if you want to dive right in to the current state of the art, read about principles of exercise for PD. If you would like to dig deeper onto the available exercise resources, or if you are an exercise professional studying PD, here are some relevant books, recordings, and web sites. And if you are just looking for general education regarding PD, here are some references.

Phinney Event

Photo by BMC racing team Press Officer Sean Weide -- Paul, next to Davis and Taylor Phinney, started off the 2012 Road 2 Victory event by riding a "Victory Lap" ahead of the other 400 plus riders.

If you are care partner to someone with PD, or may be one in the future, you will be interested in this job description. An important part of the job is caring for yourself as well as for your loved one. Another is helping to get an accurate as possible a diagnosis as early as possible. As your work evolves, you may find some unexpected benefits.

Lastly, please enjoy Paul's tribute to Carolyn as a care partner.

H. Paul Zeiger, Ph.D. has over 50 years experience in the fields of electrical engineering and computer science, in both academia and industry. He has been Chairman of the Computer Science Department, University of Colorado at Boulder, a Technical Director at a regional phone company, and has done research,product development, and consulting for various computer software companies. More recently he was Executive Vice President of The Arizona Senior Academy, a Tucson, Arizona educational organization devoted to lifelong learning and service. After teaching yoga-based exercise for those with PD for seven years, he is now retired and living in Boulder, Colorado.

Paul has well over 500 hours of training as a yoga teacher, additional training in therapeutic yoga, and has taught classes since 1990. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, he developed yoga-based exercise programs adapted specifically for PD. He taught classes through the Parkinson Association of the Rockies, as well as working with individual students. He is spokesperson for the 28 storytellers in the book "The Proud Hands of Parkinson's".

Third Picture

Carolyn and Paul on hike
in Colorado

Carolyn Allen Zeiger, Ph.D. has over 45 years experience in the fields of clinical, organizational and health psychology. She was Vice President of The Athena Group, a consulting and training firm in Denver, CO, and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Psychological Services Group, a private multi-disciplinary mental health clinic that she founded in Boulder, CO. She has also held adjunct faculty positions in the Psychology Departments of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Arizona. With her sister, Stephanie Allen, she is the author of Doing It All Isn't Everything: A Woman's Guide to Harmony and Empowerment.

Carolyn co-founded a Parkinson's caregivers' support group in Denver, and has assisted her husband Paul in teaching yoga to people with Parkinson's Disease. Carolyn has practised as a licensed psychologist in the state of Colorado, an adjunct faculty member at University of Denver, and a qualified practitioner of Jin Shin Jyutsu ™. Both Zeigers have a long history of practicing and teaching meditation.

Paul and Carolyn were on the exercise staff for the Parkinson Association of the Rockies for seven years. They have presented on PD and exercise, and on caregiving, in a variety of venues including support groups and PD conferences and seminars in Colorado and around the country. They also have given presentations, to graduate and undergraduate students at various universities, that are aimed at giving an overall understanding of the disorder.

If questions remain, email Us.