Exercises for Movement Disorders

Last updated: March 22, 2023, at 5:00 a.m. PT

Originally published: June 22, 2020, at 11:28 a.m. PT

movement disorders

According to the Mayo Clinic term "movement disorders" refers to a group of nervous system (neurological) conditions that cause abnormal increased movements, which may be voluntary or involuntary. Movement disorders can also cause reduced or slow movements. We've put together some exercises for people with movement disorders below. 


  • Make sure you are properly warmed up: 5-10 minutes brisk walking or marching in place 
  • Remember to breathe during each repetition: do not bear down or hold your breath 
  • Do the exercises in front of a mirror to make sure you are performing a full range of motion 
  • Make sure to stretch and hydrate when you are finished  

Chair Stands 

  1. Start seated on the edge a sturdy chair, preferably with arm rests  
  2. Plant both feet on the ground at shoulder width apart, hands on arm rests 
  3. Push up to a standing position 
  4. Carefully sit back down 
  5. Repeat 10-15 times 

For added difficulty, decrease reliance on hands and stand up using only your legs 

Lateral Step-up 

  1. Start at the base of stairs or a step, use a wall or railing for support  
  2. Stand with your left side facing the stair, left foot on the stair, right foot on the ground 
  3. Shift your weight to your left foot and step up, balancing on the left foot 
  4. Slowly lower your right leg back to the ground 
  5. Repeat 10-15 times 
  6. Repeat on the other side, with right foot on step, left foot on the ground 

Wall Slides 

  1. Start with back pressed against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart 
  2. Bend knees and slide down the wall to a half squat-- knees should not go past your toes 
  3. Hold for 10 seconds then slide back up to standing 
  4. Repeat 10-15 times 

Shoulder Raises 

  1. Start either seated or standing, arms straight at sides 
  2. Slowly raise arms out to the sides until they are level with shoulders 
  3. Hold for 5 seconds - resist the urge to shrug the shoulders, keep them pressed down away from your ears 
  4. Slowly lower arms back down to sides 
  5. Repeat raising arms straight in front until shoulder height, hold for 5 seconds 
  6. Repeat alternating side to front 10-15 times 

Rear Shoulder Squeeze 

  1. Start either seated or standing, arms extended straight out to the side at shoulder height  
  2. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees, with palms facing forward (create a “W” with your arms on either side and head in the middle) 
  3. Slowly pull elbows back as you squeeze your shoulder blades together (make sure to keep your shoulders pulled low away from your ears) 
  4. Hold and squeeze for 5 seconds then relax 
  5. Repeat 10-15 times 

Chair Marching 

  1. Begin seated in a sturdy chair, feet planted on the ground, shoulder-width apart, hands resting at sides or on armrests 
  2. Lift your left foot up, raising your knee up about 6 inches 
  3. Hold for 5 seconds  
  4. Slowly lower back down 
  5. Repeat other side, lifting your right foot up, hold for 5 seconds 
  6. Alternating feet, repeat 10-15 times per side 

Hip Bridges 

  1. Start on the ground on a towel or mat, laying on your back, knees bent, and feet planted on the ground, arms on the ground at your sides 
  2. Press feet and arms into the ground as you lift your hips off the ground, try to lift hips all the way to knee level 
  3. Squeeze your glutes and hold 10 seconds (remember to breathe) 
  4. Slowly lower back to the ground 
  5. Repeat 10-15 times 
Category: Strength & Cardio