Rethinking Exercise With Parkinson’s

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I hate facing the effort it takes to start daily exercise. I hate the way I feel the next day — like I have been pummeled with nunchuks. But ever since my Marine Corps training I have enjoyed the benefits of exercise. I know it is hard to get up and engage in physical activity. This is particularly true when facing the motor hesitation of Parkinson’s. It is hard to exercise facing the level of discomfort that is going to follow. This is particularly true when the post-exercise stiffness is compounded by the rigidity associated with Parkinson’s. Yet, despite these difficulties, the benefits of exercise far exceed the temporary increase in discomfort.

Starting exercise after being sedentary combined with neuromuscular malfunctions requires special considerations. The Marine Corps boot camp approach just is not going to work. Last time I tried that I ended up with multiple muscle injuries. A new approach to exercise came from three ideas: mindful movements, little things practice, and long movements adapted from Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) exercise recommendations.

In the study “Effect of Exercise on Motor and Nonmotor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease,” the authors report that “LSVT BIG therapy is designed to overcome amplitude deficits associated with PD. This therapy improves proprioception through increasing amplitude together with sustained attention and cognitive involvement by mentally focusing on individual movements.” In other words, I am concentrating on where my body is and what it is doing, and I’m paying attention by focusing on the task at hand.

My new exercise program incorporates activities that focus on long and slow movements while I’m simultaneously engaged in a mindful focus on the little things. This new exercise program is also tied to something that will continually motivate me to move past the Parkinson’s hesitation to start. I discovered, in some ways rediscovered, the answer with landscape gardening.

What is great about landscape gardening is that there are so many different types of motor tasks that need to be accomplished: shoveling, hauling with a wheelbarrow, planting, raking, clipping, and pruning. Knowing that I need more light physical activity for both warming up and for bad days, where I can only put in short durations, I am installing a white gravel Zen path. The small gravel pieces, less than an inch in diameter, are incredibly easy to rake with long mindful movements. Light and easy warm-up exercise has become mandatory for me before any physical activity. The one day I forgot resulted in strained muscles that required too much time to heal. The good thing is I now know what strained muscle pain feels like and how it is different from Parkinson’s muscle pain and different from post-exercise pain. I now know why the light warm-up exercise in a mindful state needs to happen before I tackle the larger landscape gardening projects.

Getting back into exercise after being sedentary for so long requires patience — lots and lots of patience. I see so many things in my vision for our yard. But I know if I push myself in that old boot camp way I am going to end up injured and unable to accomplish my vision. But patience means slowing down and slowing down feels like I am not accomplishing “great” things. If I think I am not accomplishing then I am not successful, and if I cannot be successful, then I feel no need starting at all. It is a devious cycle that ignores the practice of “little things” and becomes a reason to not exercise. Mindful, light motor exercise activities break that cycle. Like Tai Chi and yoga, the long, mindful movements help motivate me out of sedentary life and into a balanced exercise regime.

Gardening is also good for the mind and what is good for the mind is good for the body. My approach to gardening is different now. My first impression of the change is that my actions are calmer, framed in sacred intent. But, in all honesty, I am still sorting all that out. Using this new approach to exercise, while being creative with landscape gardening, is making a huge difference in my health. We just did a teleconference with my new primary provider and Mrs. Dr. C said, “He’s the healthiest he’s been in four years.”


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Brian Grant Foundation Launches Online Education Program for Exercise Pros

Grant's Army

The Brian Grant Foundation (BGF) has opened a new online education program that seeks to help exercise professionals provide safe and effective classes for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients.

Called Grant’s Army, the program features a compilation of cutting-edge PD exercise research, case studies of exercise programs nationwide, and stories about patients who use fitness classes to help deal with symptoms. There also are video tutorials demonstrating activities known to help patients manage the neurodegenerative disorder that affects about seven to 10 million people globally.

“Research has found that exercising on a consistent basis is one of the best tools that people with Parkinson’s can use to manage symptoms of their disease,” Katrina Kahl, the foundation’s executive director, said in a press release. “Our goal with Grant’s Army is to ensure that exercise professionals are equipped with knowledge of evidence-based activities that are safe for people with Parkinson’s, and have been shown to effectively manage the symptoms.”

Exercise is important for those living with PD because it helps maintain balance, mobility and the ability to perform daily tasks. Researchers have found that patients who exercise at least 2.5 hours weekly also experience a slower decline in quality of life.

Specifically, research has indicated that exercise can lessen PD-associated tremor and improve gait, balance, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination. Exercise also may improve cognition and lessen depression and fatigue, but studies in these areas remain ongoing.

A Grant’s Army’s patient profile features former pickup basketball player, long-distance swimmer and marathon runner Dale Moss, who experienced improvements in gait and balance after incorporating more Parkinson’s-specific exercises into his fitness routine.

Living with PD for about a decade, Moss enjoys the Parkinson’s fitness program at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois, where he has participated in clinical trials and had deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS) three years ago. DBS is a neurosurgical procedure in which doctors implant thin metal wires in the brain that send electrical pulses to help control some motor symptoms.

“I’m not always as steady as I want to be,” Moss stated on a program webpage. “These days I’m more focused on exercises that target Parkinson’s rather than doing some of those more grandiose events I used to do in the past. That’s the direction I’m going now athletically. I know that I need to be working out every day.”

He said he focuses on exercises such as squats, lunges and those that help improve balance. “These are the types of exercises that will help improve my quality of life and make it easier to do things like get up out of chairs.”

With a focus on PD exercise, nutrition and emotional health programs, the 20-year-old Brian Grant Foundation offers evidence-based tools to enhance patients’ well-being. Since 2016, the BGF has been training exercise experts on activities specifically for individuals with Parkinson’s. Its Exercise for Parkinson’s training program for professionals is offered online as well as in person.

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7 Ways to Self-Manage Your Parkinson’s Disease

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be difficult and the condition poses many challenges, however, there are ways that you can manage it to make your everyday life more comfortable. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of seven ways to self-manage Parkinson’s disease based on information from Parkinson’s UK.

Educate Yourself
The more you know about Parkinson’s disease, the more you can be prepared for what it has to throw at you. Keep up to date with all the latest research about the disease, find out if there are any clinical trials you can participate in, and if you’re on the newest medication.

MORE: The role of dopamine in Parkinson’s disease

Healthy Lifestyle
Try to stay as active as possible — walking, swimming and practicing yoga are great low-intensity exercises that you can take at your own pace. Talk to your medical team about physiotherapy if you are unable to move much on your own.

Eating a balanced diet and keeping your weight at a healthy level are also good ways to help self-manage your Parkinson’s. If you’re losing weight because you’re finding it difficult to swallow or have no appetite, talk to your doctor about ways to increase your caloric intake.

Hobbies and Socializing
If you have hobbies then try to continue with them, or find new pastimes that will help take your mind off Parkinson’s disease and give you something else to focus on. Try to keep up with friends and family on a social level so that you don’t become isolated.

Complementary Therapies
There are many complementary therapies that may help you with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Meditation, acupuncture, use of essential oils and reflexology are among the many therapies you may find useful.

MORE: Boxing therapy can help young-onset Parkinson’s disease

Mobility Aids
Think about investing in mobility aids before you actually need them. This way you can ensure you know how to use them when they are needed. Everyone is different, and people will find different aids more beneficial than others.

Keeping Your Independence
While it is undoubtedly easier to have your carer do things for you, you should try and maintain your independence for as long as possible. If you can dress and bathe yourself, prepare simple meals and do household tasks then continue to do so, even if it takes you twice as long.

Join a Support Group
See if there is a local support group in your area for people with Parkinson’s disease. If there isn’t, find an online group. You’ll be able to share your experiences with people who really understand what you’re going through and get tips and information that will help you in your everyday life.

MORE: The four possible causes of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

The post 7 Ways to Self-Manage Your Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today

Parkinson’s Foundation Enrolls 10,000th Patient in Largest Clinical Trial of the Disease Ever

10,000th study participant

The Parkinson’s Foundation has enrolled the 10,000th patient in the largest clinical trial of the disease yet to be conducted.

Among the critical discoveries so far, the research has shown that regular visits to neurologists, more exercise, and more attention to mental health could help improve patients’ wellbeing.

The Parkinson’s Outcomes Project is evaluating a broad range of factors associated with the disease, including medications, treatments, movement symptoms, cognition, anxiety and depression, and the disorder’s burden on caregivers.

Launched in 2009, the project has become a comprehensive platform for studying the lives of Parkinson’s patients. And it has led to the formation of a consortium of 29 experts in five countries.

The study includes over 100 people who have lived with Parkinson’s for more than 30 years and 83 who learned about their diagnosis before they were 30 years old. Its records include 25,000 visits to doctors and information from almost 9,000 caregivers.

Key conclusions drawn from the study include:

Regular visits to neurologists should be a priority for patients and caregivers because it could save thousands of lives a year.

Recent research has listed regular visits to a neurologist as an important step in Parkinson’s management. However, in a 2011 study, only 58 percent of 138,000 Parkinson’s-related difficulties led to neurologist care. Race was a significant demographic predictor of neurologist treatment, with non-whites being less likely to receive care.

Doctors should give patients’ physical activity more attention because studies have shown that increasing exercise and movement to at least 2 1/2 hours a week can slow the decline in patients’ quality of life.

Researchers have found that, in Parkinson’s, it’s not the type of exercise a patient engages in, but the frequency of the workout that’s important. Physical therapists recommend exercises whose goals include improving balance and coordination, flexibility, endurance, and strength.

Patient’s mental health should be a priority because researchers have found that depression and anxiety are leading factors in patients’ overall health.

Depression is one of the most common non-movement symptoms of the disease, with up to 60 percent of patients affected at one time or another.

Finally, doctors should do a better job of addressing gender differences between patients. A key reason is that many men can rely on wives and other family members for daily support and doctor visits. Women are less likely to have family caregiver support and be more frequent users of formal, paid caregiver services.

This discovery is supported by recent findings that confirm these gender disparities, such as a study in Neurology in 2017.

“We have obtained a wealth of information in what now represents the broadest and most inclusive patient population ever assembled in a clinical study of Parkinson’s,” Peter Schmidt, the senior vice president of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release. He has been directing the study.

“This project is truly innovative in that it not only follows thousands of patients over time, but that it studies everyone with Parkinson’s, from the newly diagnosed to people who have lived with the disease for 30 years or more,” added Thomas Davis, the study’s co-chair.

Researchers have been using the Parkinson’s Foundation’s Centers of Excellence network of 42 medical centers to enroll patients in the study.

In addition, “we are studying the quality of Parkinson’s care delivered at our Centers of Excellence to help patients who aren’t being seen at one,” said Fernando Cubillos, who oversees the study’s operations. “Our goal is to help identify the best care and disseminate that information widely.”

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Source: Parkinson's News Today