Exercise Can Be a Boon to People With Parkinson’s Disease
No kidding…….I have written many times about the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson’s Disease, as have my fellow Parkinson’s bloggers. An article in yesterday’s New York Times reiterates much of what I have said before. The author says: “For Parkinson’s patients in particular, regular exercise tailored to their needs can result in better posture; less stiffness; improved flexibility of muscles and joints; faster and safer walking ability; less difficulty performing the tasks of daily living; and an overall higher quality of life.” If you are like me and exercise regularly to help improve your symptoms, you already knew that.
I can attest to the benefits of exercise for me, especially since I am returning today from an 18 day cruise. While I tried to exercise daily, it is hard to maintain a routine while traveling and by the end of the trip I could really feel the difference; my body was just not in sync. So my body and I are both looking forward to getting back to yoga, boxing and the other activities that keep us moving.
I have found that regular yoga helps with flexibility and balance and boxing builds strength, endurance and agility. The combination of the two has worked well for me (and many others). They make a huge difference in performance in other areas like tennis — better footwork, faster response times and even in seeing the ball better. Most importantly, I just feel better overall.
BUT do not start an exercise program without consulting your doctor first, especially if you have not been exercising. Your doctor may want you to begin an exercise program by working with a Physical Therapist to establish a baseline for you and to help you learn exercises that will be beneficial for your specific needs. And don’t forget getting motivated, Working with a personal trainer provides one kind of motivation through personal attention; group classes provide a different kind of positive social reinforcement. Find the mix that works best for you.
And don’t forget to exercise your brain; doing puzzles, playing cards or practicing with a musical instrument. I may have found a new mental exercise in getting reintroduced to playing Bridge during our cruise. During days at sea we joined the daily beginners classes in the morning, and often played with the group in the afternoon as well. Bridge, more than any other card game I have played, requires total concentration and attention to the every aspect of the game. And the game’s conventions have changed dramatically since we learned to play over 40 years ago. I hope that relearning the game almost from scratch will provide new and fun mental exercise (boxing for the brain??) and improve my mental concentration the way phsyical exercise has helped my body.
Hopefully we will find a way to continue to play Bridge now that we’re home and that it will find its own regular place in my daily or weekly routine (without becoming another Parkinson’s obsession). Introducing and maintaining changes in those routines while keeping everything in balance is itself a challenge that we should look forward to meeting.