Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

This year while at the beach we have really stepped up the exercise routine. In addition to the Dance for PD classes and the Let Your Yoga Dance class, Mara has been attending a Yoga Fundamentals class and a Senior Fitness class while I am spinning away in my Pedaling for Parkinson’s class! After meeting with a fitness instructor at the gym, we are also doing strength training for an hour 2-3 days a week and cardio on the bike or treadmill the other days and still try to fit in a walk on the beach most days.

About now you are saying to yourselves, “Wow, Tom has gone over the edge on this exercise issue, wonder if he has seen any benefits”. And the answer is a resounding YES, I have less rigidity, better muscle tone, sleep better, walk better, and even some improvement in my posture (at least while I’m in dance class!). No I haven’t turned into Charles Atlas, no six pack flat abs or bulging muscles just better movement and improvement in my symptoms and overall health.

Why Exercise?

Davis Phinney says it best: “Exercise is medicine, so don’t miss a dose.”  Check out the Top Ten Tips for Exercising with Parkinson’s Disease on the Davis Phinney Foundation website. You can also order a copy of the Parkinson’s Exercise Essentials DVD and exercise guide at no charge from their website. Also available at no charge is the Every Victory Counts Manual with tools for proactive self care.

There are many studies that show exercise to be beneficial not only for overall health but specifically for improvement in PD symptoms. A summary of recent research found on the National Parkinson’s Foundation site ends with the statement that the research presented “…shows that for people with Parkinson’s, exercise is an essential part of managing the disease.”

On the Michael J Fox Foundation website they point out that “There is evidence that exercise may hold specific benefits for people with Parkinson’s in staying active and relatively limber, and improving balance and motor coordination.” You can find several podcasts with tips on how to get started with an exercise program, what exercises seem to be beneficial and current research results. Download one today and listen to it while you exercise!

As you can see  there are a variety of possible exercises for Parkinson’s including boxing, dance, walking, running, cycling, yoga, etc.  Many of them can be done while seated and they will get you moving.  In fact both dance classes that we take and the senior fitness class provide a great workout while seated.  So talk to your primary care physician and have a thorough checkup and start exercising and I think you will see the benefits in a short time. Exercise helps keep the PD at bay while research continues to find a cure, so exercise AND sign up for Fox Trial Finder and Fox Insight!

Here are some additional resources that might help you find an exercise program that fits your needs:
Dance for PD – click on classes to find one near you.
Rock Steady Boxing – click on find a class
Delay the Disease – a physical therapy program with DVD’s and Books available to purchase and a growing list of trained instructors and classes.  I have reviewed the DVD’s and books and found them well written and the exercises can be done sitting or standing.

Our time at the beach is about up and we return to Tennessee in a week or so, just in time for our Oak Ridge support group Parkinson’s Walk in support of the Unity Walk in NYC.  Despite my fumbling attempt last year as MC, they have asked me to perform the same duty again this year.  If you are in the area, please join us on April 16th.  If you can’t join us, think about donating to our team PK Hope is Alive.  Unity Walk is unique because all of the costs are covered by sponsors so that 100% of your donation is distributed to the 7 major Parkinson’s research organizations.  Donation information is available on either of the links above.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

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