4 populations that can benefit from home-based exercise

The Bottom Line

  • Our homes can be settings that we incorporate into our exercise routines.
  • Folks living with peripheral artery disease or Parkinson’s disease, women with urinary incontinence, and older adults living in the community are all populations that can benefit from exercising at home.  
  • To determine if home-based exercise programs are a good fit for you and how to implement them optimally and safely, first speak to your healthcare team. 

Like gyms, yoga studios, pools, and parks, home can also be a place where we exercise.

Research appears to support the notion that our homes can be locations that we leverage to improve our health and well-being through exercise. People living with specific health conditions that negatively impact their quality of life and older adults living in the community are a few examples of populations that may benefit from home-based exercise (1-4).

Click on the links below to learn more.

1. People with peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) falls under the umbrella of cardiovascular diseases. It is a condition that causes the arteritis to narrow from plaque build-up, leading to decreased blood flow in areas of the body that are impacted (5). PAD frequently occurs in the legs (1;5). Research shows that structured home-based exercise programs can boost walking distance and physical activity levels in people with PAD in their legs (1).

2. People living with Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease falls under the umbrella of neurological disorders. It impacts the central nervous system, resulting in issues related to balance, movement, and posture, among many others (2;6). Research shows that home-based exercise programs can enhance walking speed and balance-related activities in people with Parkinson’s by a small amount. What is more, when it comes to balance-related activities and quality of life, home-based exercise programs may be just as effective as those taking place outside of the home (2).

3. Women with urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a condition marked by the involuntary loss of bladder control (7;8). Research shows that pelvic floor muscle training can improve urinary incontinence in women living with various forms of the condition, and in some cases even cure it (3). On an even brighter note, these exercises can be done from the comfort of home, as one option. They require little to no equipment, and folks can lean on guidance and support from multiple sources—such as a physiotherapist or other healthcare professional that provides them with at-home exercises, and reputable instructional videos or mobile apps.  

4. Older adults living in the community

Phone calls, videogames, websites, DVDs, mobile apps, videoconferencing tools, and the list goes on. Digital technologies and the rate at which they are evolving are helping to make exercising at home easier than ever. Research shows that home-based exercise programs delivered via digital technologies can improve physical function and health-related quality of life and reduce falls in older adults living in the community (4).

Interested in exercising at home? First, consult your healthcare team to see if this strategy is appropriate for you and how to engage in it safely. Through conversation you can identify preferences, determine whether supervision or adaptations are needed, and if instructions can be provided or recommendations for additional supports made.  

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Author Details


  1. Golledge J, Singh TP, Alahakoon C, et al. Meta-analysis of clinical trials examining the benefit of structured home exercise in patients with peripheral artery disease. Br J Surg. 2019; 106:319-331. doi: 10.1002/bjs.11101. 
  2. Flynn A, Allen NE, Dennis S, et al. Home-based prescribed exercise improves balance-related activities in people with Parkinson’s disease and has benefits similar to centre-based exercise: A systematic review. J Physiother. 2019; 65(4),189-199. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2019.08.003.
  3. Dumoulin C, Cacciari LP, Hay-Smith EJC. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018; 10:CD005654. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005654.pub4.
  4. Solis-Navarro L, Gismero A, Fernandez-Jane C, et al. Effectiveness of home-based exercise delivered by digital health in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Age Ageing. 2022; 51(11):afac243. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afac243.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Peripheral artery disease (PAD). [Internet] 2022. [cited June 2023]. Available from https://www.mayoclinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-artery-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350557 
  6. Dorsey E, Sherer T, Okun MS, et al. The emerging evidence of the Parkinson pandemic. J Parkinson’s Dis. 2018; 8:S3-S8. doi: 10.3233/JPD-181474.
  7. Todhunter-Brown A, Hazelton C, Campbell P, et al. Conservative interventions for treating urinary incontinence in women: an Overview of Cochrane systematic reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022; 9:CD012337. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012337.pub2.
  8. The Canadian Continence Foundation. FAQs. [Internet] 2023. [Cited March 2023]. Available from https://www.canadiancontinence.ca/EN/frequently-asked-questions.php

DISCLAIMER: These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of new and old blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with changing public health recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.