Fitness for PD

Fitness for PD at LIU is a free exercise class developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), in collaboration with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group (BPG). We aim to help participants build physical fitness and physical skills by challenging their abilities in a friendly, caring, and rigorous environment. Limiting the class to people with Parkinson’s makes it easier for the participants to jump in and try new things without fear or embarrassment.

Our exercise philosophy is to challenge every individual to go beyond what they were capable of before, while at the same time, making sure they see how to perform the exercises in a manner that is accessible, whatever their limitations. We tailor the exercises to individuals and vary the mix of exercises from day to day. Over a 10-week period this lets us challenge their balance, strength, flexibility, as well as agility and endurance.

Undergraduate students in the health professions help out and get to learn how to work with people who have physical limitations, while seeing them in an empowering environment.  The participants with PD often teach the students about Parkinson’s disease, how to help them in and out of machines, and how interact in a way that will be helpful but not fawning. Participants and students enjoy getting to know each other and we all learn a few life lessons along the way.

Schedule and Contact Information

Classes meet twice per week for 10-week sessions:

Late September to December
February to April
Mid-May to July

Tuesdays from 9:45 – 11:15am
Thursdays from 9:45 – 11:15am

LIU Health & Wellness Institute
Steinberg Wellness Center (basement)
161 Ashland Place (near Dekalb Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY   11201


For information, contact Dr. Rebecca States, 718-780-4149

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people with parkinson’s need to exercise?

Because exercise is good for all adults. People with Parkinson’s have a potentially greater need for exercise due to:

  • Stiffness in the chest & other muscles
  • Slowed movement and impaired gait
  • Greater level of fatigue
  • Postural instability (balance problems)

Is there a potential extra benefit of exercise for people with PD?

Yes. Current research suggests exercise may help protect nerve cells (a process called neuroprotection) by:

  • Possibly slowing disease progression
  • Improving sleep & helping people feel better

Is exercise safe?

Yes.  And to minimize risk in this program, each participant will be required to have:

  • Medical approval from his/her physician
  • Fitness evaluation at beginning of   the program

Impressions from Participants

“I feel terrific on the days that I exercise. I can walk home from here, and almost have a normal gait all the way home.”

" seems like a natural high, especially on Thursday when we do the boxing."

"A couple weeks back, we had such a good workout, I almost felt like a normal person."

"She [the instructor] drives you to excel, and do better than you thought you could do, she's serious about it, she knows what she's talking about, she knows what she's doing, and she motivates you to do it. She's like, 'let's work.'"

"And you know when you're looking in the mirror and you see other people struggling with what you struggle with, you say, 'oh, good, it's not just me.'"

"Well, you know, I was scared and shocked to have this diagnosis and was told this was the only thing that could help me. And I also wanted the support network to understand what this meant for me. So, that's what got me here."

"Being in a community makes a huge difference. The community that this whole group has is amazing."

"I feel we're all striving to live as healthy a life as we can so everyone kind of supports each other and, you know, gives you the motivation just to keep doing it. I don't feel like we're sitting around waiting for the inevitable to happen. We're engaged and in control of our lives."

Meet the staff

Tracye Rawls-Martin
Prof of Exercise Science

Rebecca (Becky) States
Director & Prof of Physical Therapy

LIU Undergraduates
Student Assistants

Research about Fitness for PD at LIU

  • What makes a group fitness program for people with Parkinson’s disease endure? A mixed methods study of multiple stakeholders. Rossi, Torres-Panchame, Marcus, Gallo, States. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2018;41:320-327.
  • Physical functioning after 1, 3, and 5 years of exercise among people with Parkinson's disease: A longitudinal observational study. States, Sweeny, Rossi, Spierer, Salem. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 2017;40(3):127-134.
  • An interprofessional case study: Training health profession students in clinical exercise therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease.  Sweeny, States, Rossi, American Society for Neurorehabilitation, Chicago, IL. Oct 2015.
  • Multi-year observational study of community-based exercise for individuals with Parkinson disease.  States, Ikeme, Salem, Speirer, 3rd World Parkinson Congress.  Montreal, Quebec. 2013:#885.00.
  • Parkinson’s Doctor Panel: Dystonia & Parkinson Patient Symposium Program, 2013 Symposium, States. The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia Parkinson’s Foundation, Inc. New York, NY. Mar 2013.
  • Feasibility of long-term group exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease.  States, Speirer, Salem. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 2011;35:122-128.


School of Health Professions