Active Senior Couple jogging in park

have found interval training has helped my clients who have Parkinson’s to walk faster and for more time which is a major goal for them.  One of the major challenges that people with Parkinson’s have is with walking.  A couple of their challenges could be shuffling or Bradykinesia which is a slowness of movement.

When I start training a person with Parkinson’s who has been inactive I have found many of them to have low stamina and get tired easily.  Another common problem I have found is that when a person with Parkinson’s has been inactive for a while and doesn’t exercise or walk regularly they could have difficulty getting their body going.  In Parkinson’s this is called an on and off period.  On and off periods have to also do with medication as well.  When a person takes their Parkinson’s medication like carbidopa they will go into an on state when the medication kicks in and as the medication wares off they will go into an off state.

Many people will rely on there medication to get them into there on state without exercising.  I have found that people who exercise regularly will go into an on state and stay in an on state more.  Interval training can help a person to go into an on state.  When a person is in an off state, short intervals can help get the body going.  Then when the person goes into an on-state they will be able to walk farther, faster, and their movements become more fluent.

People with Parkinson’s can be at varying stages of health and ability.  Some people can walk and move really well and some can have challenges moving or even need help.  Finding the right interval training program for your stage is important.

An interval training can help a person with Parkinson’s.  In this article I will share with you how I incorporate interval training programs in my client’s workouts so they can walk and move better, walk faster and for more time.  Hopefully, you will find an approach that you can use in your workouts.

Benefits of Interval Training for Improving Walking

  • Walk faster.  Alternating walking faster with walking slower or resting will give your body a chance to recover so you can do a number of intervals of walking faster.
  • Walking for more time.  Taking rest breaks will give your body a chance to recover enabling you to walk for a longer period of time.
  • Walking farther and for a longer distance.  Rest breaks will give your body a chance to recover so you can walk farther and for a longer distance.
  • Walks in the future will be easier.  Your endurance and stamina will improve from regularly working on your walking.  You will be able  to walk faster, for longer periods of time, and for longer distances.
  • Get into an on-state quicker and easier.
  • Burn more calories and lose weight by walking  for more time and at a faster pace.
  • Get more confident in your walking ability by walking more.  The rest periods will help you recover and enable you to be refreshed for next interval of walking.
  • Elevate your mood through producing endorphins from walking.
  • Get more cardiovascular and health benefits from interval training.

What is interval training

Interval training is when you alternate from a higher intensity to a lower intensity or rest.  Walk at a faster pace for 20 seconds followed by walking at a slower pace for a minute.  One can go back to walking faster again or rest if needed.

What are the best ways for one who has Parkinson’s to do an interval training workout to help them develop the ability to walk faster and for more time?

Interval Training Workout Tracking Time With Rest Periods

Walking for a period of time with rest breaks will give your body a chance to recover so you can walk again at a good pace.  You will able to do multiple intervals of walking enabling you to walk more.  You will also be refreshed from resting to push yourself.

How to:

  • Walk for a period of time and rest  
  • Walk again back for a period of time and then rest
  • Decide on how much time by testing how far you can walk

A number of older people who have Parkinson’s I have found to only be able to walk for a short period of time and then need to rest.  This would be a good approach to start out trying to help walk faster and for a longer period of time.


Walk for 2 minutes or whatever time you decide and then rest for a minute.  You can start off doing a few intervals like 3 or 4.  Therefore, walk for 2 minutes and rest for a minute 3 to 4 times.

How to progress to be able to walk faster?

While walking, focus on pushing yourself to walk faster, take bigger steps, and longer strides.  Do the best you can to walk faster.  You can break your walk into intervals too during your time of walking by alternating walking faster for a period of time and then walking slower.  

Example of a Workout to Help One to Walk Faster

Say you decided to walk for 2 minutes.  During the 2 minutes of walking try to walk faster for 15 seconds, walk slower for 15 seconds, walk faster for 15 seconds, walk slower for 15 seconds until you reach the 2 minutes.

Interval  Training Workout Tracking Laps Walking from One Point to Another

In this method you would track intervals through walking from one point to another.  I have set up chairs for clients where I would have a person walk from one chair to the other and back.  Depending on how strong the person is would determine how many times back and forth I would have them walk.

Example of an Interval Training Workout Tracking Laps Walking From One Point to Another

How to :

  • Set up 2 chairs in a room a good distance from each other, not too long.
  • Walk back and forth from one chair to the next.  This is a protective measure so the person is close to a chair and can sit if needed.  

I assess how far a person can walk to determine the spacing in between the chairs as well as how many times I have the person go back and forth between chairs.   I would have the person walk from one chair to the other and see when they are getting tired and need to sit.

Interval training Walking in a Park Or Around a Track

Walking around a park or a track can give you the opportunity to push yourself at a good speed.  You can alternate your speed by walking faster for a period of time or for a certain distance and then rest or slow down.  If there are benches you can sit if needed.

Track your  workouts

Keep track of your workouts so you can:

  • monitor your progress to inspire and motivate you to workout
  • give you a visual reminder of how you did so you can push yourself to do more
  • stay on track to workout.  Having the workout recorded will show you when you worked out so you can get back on track if needed

What is the Best Interval Training Workout for You?

The best interval training workout for you will depend on your level of fitness.  For my clients who are active and can walk well I push them.  I can do an interval training workout in my clients neighborhood, at a park, or somewhere they have the opportunity to walk a good distance.  For my clients who can’t walk very far and need rest breaks setting up chairs and tracking time or distance is what I do with them.   Which interval training workout are you going to do?  Jonathan is a master trainer who specializes in training people with Parkinson’s.  If you have any questions or would like to set up a time for Jonathan to help you to walk faster and for more time or help with any of your issues with Parkinson’s so you can live your best life with Parkinson’s contact him.

Check out this article to learn effective strategies for a person with Parkinson’s to improve their ability to walk.

Have Parkinson’s? Here’s What Helps Parkinson’s Patients Walk

Check out this article to learn beneficial gait training techniques to help one with Parkinson’s walk better.

How Gait Training for Parkinson’s Patient Can Improve Quality of Life