1. Other than medication, what can I do to manage Parkinson’s? The single biggest change in the management of Parkinson’s since the discovery of levodopa in the sixties (see below) is exercise.
  2. What is Parkinson’s? Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra that produces a chemical called dopamine.
  3. What is dopamine? Dopamine is a chemical messenger that facilitates the interaction between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and coordinate body movements.
  4. What happens when dopamine levels fall? With dopamine, movement is quick and well-coordinated. Without dopamine, movement becomes slow and awkward.
  5. How long does it take for Parkinson’s to develop? The symptoms of Parkinson’s usually become visible once 70%-80% of dopamine calls have died, which means Parkinson’s can start years before a formal diagnosis.
  6. What are the symptoms? Parkinson’s has both motor and non-motor symptoms: motor symptoms include control of coordination, movement and mobility. Non-motor symptoms include changes to the senses, energy levels, mood and cognition.
  7. What medications are used to treat Parkinson’s? The combination of levodopa and carbidopa (Sinemet®) or the combination of levodopa + benserazide (Madopar®) is used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
  8. What is neuroplasticity? Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways. This means the brain can compensate for damaged dopamine neurons by forming new connections between undamaged neurons.
  9. What promotes neuroplasticity? Exercise, particularly high-intensity exercise, produces a brain protein called Brain Derived Neuroplastic Factor (BDNF), described as MiracleGro® for the brain.
  10. What’s the bottom line? There is no cure for Parkinson’s yet but, if you are prepared to work hard, there’s a good chance you can tame it.

  11. What do I need to do to join an Exercise as Medicine® NZ class? Call Tim Webster on 021 0228 2551 or email


Play for Parkinson’s: Wednesday 11.15-12.15 at Bishopdale Recreation Centre.

Support people/helpers are very welcome. The cost is $15 per class.

This is a movement-based class for functional Parkinson’s people who want to stay that way. Featuring activities from a broad range of areas, this class focuses on the key issues underpinning Parkinson’s: big movement, big voice, balance, coordination, intensity, complexity, power and cognition. No two classes are the same, and having fun is essential.

High-Performance Parkinson’s: Tuesday 12.15-1.15 at Hale Compound Conditioning, Waltham.

The cost is $25 per class.

This high-intensity programme has been developed to cater for Parkinson’s people who want to challenge themselves physically and mentally. The programme draws from sport, dance and gym and harnesses the power of high-intensity exercise to drive neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to rewire itself – and slow down the progression of Parkinson’s.


Tim is an exceptional person with lots of experience and expertise who goes above and beyond. His understanding of Parkinson’s and tailoring of our exercise programme make the workouts challenging and fun.  I count myself lucky to have found Tim and my new exercise family.

Lynn McKenzie

I joined this Parkinson’s programme shortly after being diagnosed, and I have been with Tim ever since. He understands the challenges Parkinson’s presents in depth, and he tailors the classes accordingly. Maybe, most of all, he’s figured out how to make exercise fun.

Kelvyn Bringans

Not long after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I ran into a total stranger at a support group meeting who strongly suggested I go to Tim’s classes. That chance encounter has changed the nature of my journey with Parkinson’s in that working with Tim has given me a sense of control over its progression. And he manages to make it great fun in the process.

Jan Harland

Please contact Tim before attending your first class: or 021 0228 2551