…we’re going to learn how to feel good, we’re going to learn about our body’s rhythm and patterns, and pay attention to our body language and our facial expressions. By changing our script and eliminating our behavior of fear, we can bring ourselves back to a place where our natural movements dominate our Parkinson’s movements.
Last fall I ordered the not yet published book, Goodbye Parkinson’s, Hello life! I eagerly awaited this new book on exercise for Parkinson’s which sounded very promising. After all, I am willing to try just about any form of exercise that will help. The book came last month and I have been playing with the exercises outlined by author Alex Kerten.
The basic theory laid out by Kerten, an exercise physiologist based in Herzliya, Israel, is that with movement, music and rhythm – creating motion in the body – you stimulate simultaneous physiological, biological and psychological reactions. This will bring you back to a place where your natural movements dominate your Parkinson’s movements. This is the foundation of what he calls the Gyro-Kinetic method. Throughout the book he uses the “Oscars” as a metaphor for moving through life with PD. By changing the movie script of our lives after diagnosis, we can actually break out of the acquired chronic habits of Parkinson’s. We must become Parkinson’s Warriors; throw away the script that has been handed to us and write a new one.
First, Kerten stresses that this program is to be used as a complement to, not instead of, a medication program. He says you will feel better by learning about certain behavior patterns that create chemical imbalances that take you away from your home-base center of balance and contentment. The goal is to learn how to regain that center by synchronizing your thoughts and actions.
The exercises are designed to put you in touch with your body, focusing on breathing, movement, self-massage, conducting music and improvised dances. This will help you learn to regain your abilities that have been curtailed by PD. By doing this, Kerten says you can “FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT” and win an Oscar for acting out the script of “I’m a Healthy Person with Parkinson’s Symptoms.” There are the usual testimonials from doctors and patients regarding the benefits of the Gyro-Kinetics method and much more information about Parkinson’s Disease.
But the heart of the book is the exercises. What I love about the them is that you can do them anywhere. Just put on some music and start moving. The written descriptions of the exercises can be a little confusing, so take the time to go to the website and view the 6 minute video of some of the exercises before you start. You begin by moving your feet, then add your hands and facial expressions. Then combine all. After that you get to conduct the music. (Did you know that conductor’s have a longer than average life expectancy because of the physical exercise involved in conducting?) By conducting, you become one with the music. And finally there is free dance. Just keep moving and don’t worry about how you look. There are more exercises in the book and Kerten also offers on-line Skype sessions if you need more personalized attention.
So far, I’m a fan. There is a good chance that if friends and family can’t find me, I will be dancing privately somewhere no one can see how silly I look. And having a great time doing it.