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Parkinson’s Boxers Have the Greatest Cheering Section Around

cheering section

I attend a Rock Steady Boxing class twice a week. Rock Steady Boxing is a program founded in 2006 by Scott Newman, who has Parkinson’s disease, along with his friend, Vince Perez, who does not have Parkinson’s. 

The class is more than merely exercising or getting “Parkinson’s fit.” Fellow attendees become friends committed to doing their best to fight this disease. They are friends who are all in the same boat and encourage one another verbally, emotionally, and by example. But the class also has another dimension: a personal cheering section.

Many of us who attend these classes have someone to drive us to them, including husbands, wives, other family members, and friends. Most stay and watch our workouts. Some participate in their own way.

The other evening, Penny, who is the wife of one of our guys, offered to help me put on my gloves. Someone commented that this is Penny’s purpose — helping participants of our boxing class to put on their gloves. She agreed. 

You may think that her assistance is insignificant or believe that perhaps I am making light of it. You would be mistaken. Penny’s purpose extends far beyond closing the velcro on boxing gloves. 

She takes a front-row seat on a metal stool behind the half-wall of the gym, sitting alongside a small group of other family members and friends of Parkinson’s boxers. This is our time to strengthen our bodies and their time to reinforce their reserve as caregivers. While we are hopping, jogging, and doing pushups, they are exchanging caregiving war stories or just sharing some downtime with others who understand their plight.

They watch us run, jump, squat, and punch. They laugh with us. (Please note that I wrote, “They laugh with us,” not “at us.”) They root for us when we jog by and count repetitions for us so we don’t have to use our valuable brain cells to stay on track. They encourage us to keep going when we show signs of fatigue or feel like quitting.

Each week, they bring healthy snacks to share with one another and with us, too. Instead of taking our gloves off so that we can take a carrot stick, grape, or strawberry, they happily “feed” them to us.   

Anyone with a chronic illness knows that being a caregiver is tough. After all, we are the ones they are caring for. We can be grumpy because of the constant pain that ravages our bodies, and we may appear ungrateful at times. But one thing is certain: Though we may not always show our appreciation for them, we have the greatest cheering section around. 

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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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Student Scholar Program at Louisiana Tech Connects Parkinson’s Patients to Resources

Louisiana Tech PD program

Through Louisiana Tech University‘s (LTU) Student Scholar program, participants are both learning and teaching others about Parkinson’s disease (PD) and available support.

Lauren Tompkins is one of two students currently in the program at LTU’s Parkinson Resource Center (PRC), which aims to promote a healthy PD community by connecting people, programs, ideas and resources. A sophomore nursing student, Tompkins works with the area patient community.

“We’re just trying to get resources to the community and to people in the area with Parkinson’s,” Tompkins said in a press release.

The program gives students hands-on experience caring for those with the progressive disorder, which affects seven to 10 million individuals globally.

“We want to impact those who will be our future nurses caring for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said Donna Hood, who, along with fellow LTU professor Tara Haskins, directed the PRC’s formation. “What we found is folks with Parkinson’s disease are very often hungry for resources. Our students have been great about helping to put those resources into the hands of the people who reach out to us.”

The students spend time learning as much as possible about resources specific to the complex condition that affects each patient differently. The program’s PRC office abounds with educational books, pamphlets and other materials.

“It starts with education,” Hood said. “If they’re going to connect folks with Parkinson’s to resources, they need to know the resources. They would go in and spend a couple of hours a week listening to webinars, reading and reviewing.”

Near the PRC is the university’s Lambright Sports and Wellness Center, where Parkinson’s-related activities such as Rock Steady Boxing take place. Exercise is important for PD patients because it helps maintain balance, mobility and the ability to perform daily routines. Student Scholar participants volunteer with Rock Steady Boxing, a program that uses a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum to help slow Parkinson’s and enable better disease symptom management. The PRC also has launched a PD dance program.

“More and more people are affected by [Parkinson’s] than we realize,”  Tompkins said. “It’s not really taught that much in other schools. It’s important for nursing students and biology students, speech pathology students and kinesiology students just to get a little insight about the disease so they know what to expect and what to tell patients.”

Hood said many area PD patients are in need of resources, and that the Student Scholar program and other PRC efforts are helping to remedy that.

“They don’t have ready access right now, but through Louisiana Tech and our collaborative effort, we can really grow those resources, and we can see that happening,” she said.

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Advocating for Parkinson’s Disease in a Hospital Gown

surgery

Last week I had surgery. Little did I know that it would be a great time to advocate for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

It began with the registration process two days before my hospital check-in. The hospital’s admittance clerk called me with some last-minute instructions for my surgery, which took place two days after the phone call ended. 

The instructions were routine, such as not eating after midnight, not drinking after 6 a.m., and showering with that pretty, pink liquid soap. You know — the usual. While on the phone, we went over the medications I take, and the clerk asked me how one of my medications worked for me. 

Her husband is in his sixth year of battling Parkinson’s disease, and his symptoms have been worsening in the last year or so. We talked for about 10 minutes, and I felt I was able to encourage her and provide some pointers that might be helpful for them to discuss with his neurologist. She repeatedly expressed her gratitude and was appreciative that I took the time to talk to her.

Surgery day also presented opportunities to share my experience with Parkinson’s disease. 

I discussed with my pre-surgery nurse the dangers of antipsychotic medications such as Haldol (haloperidol) for people with PD. Potential side effects can leave Parkinson’s patients in worse shape than when they were admitted. This is why I wear a red allergy band when I have any procedure in the hospital. The woman had been a nurse for over 14 years and had never heard of Parkinson’s patients having adverse reactions to antipsychotic medications.

After surgery, I had the opportunity to speak with another nurse who asked all types of questions, as she has a close friend who has PD. The nurse was eager for any information to share with her friend. 

I told her about a support group, Rock Steady Boxing, our state’s PD resource center, a physical therapist who does the LSVT BIG program for PD patients, and more. I shared with her my Parkinson’s website, and she took down information to look into Parkinson’s News Today. Her response to the information I gave her was much like that of the admittance clerk: extreme gratitude. 

I reflected on these opportunities and was grateful to have been given them because sometimes I wonder if my experience with Parkinson’s has made a difference for those coming behind me. After looking back, I think so. At least, I hope so.

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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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A Rock Steady Boxing Party Showed Me a Community that Cares

community

Christmas hung in the air, smelling faintly of cheese platters and wine. Dad and I had decided to attend a Rock Steady Boxing Christmas party. On the way over, he joked that it would “be a quick Christmas party because everyone’s drugs [would] wear off in a few hours.”

His attitude amazed me, as always. He isn’t one to complain. He’s much more likely to count his blessings and to be excited about the prospect of introducing me to his friends. 

We arrived early and watched green tablecloths making waves in the air while being molded onto the table. I wasn’t sure what was stirring in my dad, but I got the sense that he liked being among people who understood him. No one asked him why he didn’t intend to stay for more than two hours. If he couldn’t eat right away, it was quietly understood that he was timing his medications. And no one batted an eye if he suddenly found himself stuck to the ground. 

The power of community

Seeing my dad interact with the Rock Steady Boxing community surprised me. He had withdrawn from some social circles when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but this barrier seemed to dissipate when we walked into the gym. Everyone knows and loves him. And he smiled in return, eyes twinkling like they do when he’s showing you that he cares about you (or that he is up to no good). 

And it wasn’t just his friends who seemed excited to see him. The gym owner was nearly bouncing off the walls when people started to trickle into the gym. His passion and excitement resounded throughout the hall. Working with Parkinson’s patients is clearly a passion of his. He cares for the people as much as he cares about boxing. And his volunteers are equally loving. 

By the time everyone arrived, piles of food were overflowing on the table. You could see character in the dishes. Dad’s Polish friend is famous for his perogi. We brought my mom’s classic cheese ball. The table was diverse, like the people who surrounded it. 

Parkinson’s disease and shyness

Everyone seemed a little bit shy as Christmas cheer bubbled in the gym. Maybe it’s because Parkinson’s targets your vocal cords and speaking becomes a little harder as the disease progresses. But Dad introduced me to everyone in the room, and it was obvious that he’s surrounded by a powerful crew. 

We walked around the gym. Dad punched every bag and showed me what some of the classes look like. I wondered if I might be able to volunteer at a gym that’s close to my home.

Between plates of food, Dad shared an interesting fact about everyone in the room. It’s clear that he greatly respects his peers. And I suspect that the love and respect are mutual.

Earlier in the week, Dad had taken me to a boxing class. Before each class, everyone gathers in a circle and shares a little bit about themselves and what they’re going through. It’s no wonder how the shared struggle promotes empathy and love. Dad joked that the girls talk a lot more than the boys. But everyone has something of value to share. And they do! 

While Parkinson’s disease is cruel and grueling in so many ways, sometimes it has the capacity to bond us, too. And I can’t help but wonder if the illness has the capacity to bring as much positivity as destruction. Whatever the case may be, it gives me hope and courage to see my dad at home among a crew that understands him. 

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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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Dance with Parkinson’s Program Inspires Alumni to Spearhead Classes at Louisiana Tech

In keeping with a burgeoning emphasis on exercise in Parkinson’s, Louisiana Tech University (LTU) has launched a dance program to help patients manage the disease.

Called Dance with Parkinson’s, the program begins Feb. 5 at LTU’s Lambright Sports and Wellness Center. The goal is to get patients moving at their individual level of comfort — and to have fun doing it.

“Dance encompasses many of the same physical challenges and benefits of exercise,” said Gretchen Jones who, along with business partner and fellow LTU alum Leaia Alsup, recently finished a two-day benefactor-funded training course at the Mark Morris Dance Center. The two will be program instructors.

The tailored workshop was 16 hours of hands-on teaching plus practical training to help prepare Jones and Alsup to lead classes and build a program, according to an article on LTU’s website.

“I had only a very basic knowledge of Parkinson’s before becoming involved with this program,” Jones said. “I didn’t truly realize how difficult day-to-day activities can be for patients with Parkinson’s. I understand more clearly now that having Parkinson’s alters a great many things, from physical challenges to social challenges. Dance has tremendous power to connect people and bring joy to all.”

The program was set in motion following a 2018 campus visit by another LTU graduate, Kelly Harp Haber, who is lead dance instructor for the Dance for Parkinson’s program in New Orleans. Dance for Parkinson’s offers classes for patients in more than 250 communities in 25 countries.

In town to teach at Twin City Ballet Company, Haber stopped by the university’s Rock Steady Boxing program for Parkinson’s patients and was so impressed that she wrote LTU’s president, Les Guice, about it. “The magnitude of the work that is happening in that class is remarkable,” she wrote, adding that although she taught a variety of ballet classes, the “crown jewel” of her work is her weekly Parkinson’s dance class.

Guice wrote back that he loved the idea of bringing new activities to the school’s newly founded Parkinson Resource Center, which aims to promote a healthy Parkinson’s community through programs, ideas, and resources. That correspondence, and behind-the-scenes work by faculty members Donna Hood and Tara Haskins, led to the university’s Dance with Parkinson’s program.

To emphasize the program’s benefits, Haber recently gave the university two sample classes.

What’s key to the program is that participants have an artistic and aesthetic experience that incorporates exploration, visualization, and socialization, Jones said. The LTU program will also introduce Louisiana themes in addition to the dance classics.

“After learning about the disease and learning that dance and movement can help with [patients’] everyday life, I just want to help,” Alsup said. “I just want to offer what I know and give them a place or opportunity to move in.”

Because Parkinson’s patients generally experience motor and cognitive impairment, as well as mood changes and social isolation, dance may positively affect their quality of life, according to the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

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My Favorite Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Loved Ones with Parkinson’s

Christmas gift ideas

Every year, I compile a list of holiday gift ideas for people with Parkinson’s disease. This year, I’ve taken my favorites from previous lists and added some new ideas. I’m offering them here for those who need assistance with finding the right gift for their loved one.

A few of my favorites

Two of my all-time favorites are a terry cloth bathrobe and an electric toothbrush. The robe can be worn after showering when we don’t have the strength to dry ourselves or struggle with balance. A task like brushing our teeth doesn’t have to be so difficult when we have a quality battery-powered toothbrush.

Years ago, I bought a herbal neck wrap. I heat it in the microwave and use it to relieve stiffness in my neck. I also lay it across my feet to warm them up. These wraps are super easy to make: Use corn or rice and mix in aromatic herbs such as lavender.

For the love of books

If your loved one enjoys reading, a Kindle or another e-reader could be the answer to your gift-giving question. Fine motor skills — such as turning pages — can be challenging for some people with Parkinson’s. And a touch screen could be the solution. You could add a gift certificate to cover their first book purchase.

Personal care tasks, such as taking care of nails, become more difficult as the disease progresses. Your loved one might be delighted with a voucher for a professional manicure. A basic treatment is not overly pricey and often includes a hand massage. You could splurge and add a pedicure to make them feel truly pampered.

An alternative to a professional manicure is a do-it-yourself nail painting that an older grandchild could give to a grandparent. People with Parkinson’s might be grateful for an electric manicure set if they can still take care of their nails.

Let’s admit it: Some tasks would be easier with help, but you’d like to maintain your modesty a little longer. Have you considered a bidet toilet attachment? I discovered this device a few months ago and thought, “Why not?”

Following are more gift ideas that may inspire you this holiday season:

  • Slipper socks with nonslip soles to prevent falls;
  • Gift certificates for dance, voice, or other Parkinson’s-specific classes;
  • A Rock Steady Boxing membership;
  • Weighted eating utensils;
  • Book of puzzles or brain teasers;
  • Colored pencils and adult coloring books.

Whatever you decide to give your person with Parkinson’s, if the gift is chosen with love, they will appreciate it.

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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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A Tough Climb: Nan Little’s Parkinson’s Journey

coming apart

Many would find the book title “If I Can Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Why Can’t I Brush My Teeth?” intriguing. Few people, however, would understand its meaning.                                  

Nan Little, author of the aforementioned book, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 62. Since then, writes Pamela Quinn, an interviewer for “PD Outliers,” Nan “has become well known around the Parkinson’s community for her bold expeditions across the world.”

A boxing buddy at Rock Steady gave me the book, but I was somewhat reticent about reading of Nan’s journeys around the world. I’d heard her speak at a conference a few years back. My impression of her talk was that she was saying “Look what I’ve done” rather than “Look at what exercising has done for me.” (In hindsight, it would be fair to say that there had been some envy on my part.)

According to Nan, exercising — mainly intense cycling — saved her life. And cycling across Iowa led her to the base and ultimately all the way to the top of Kilimanjaro. I wasn’t too many pages into the book before I overcame my first impression of her experiences, and by the end of Chapter 1, I was a fan.

Nan writes with honesty and transparency, sharing her reaction to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008 and relating how she became involved in cycling with the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), a noncompetitive bicycle ride organized by the Des Moines Register. It was through RAGBRAI that she became involved with the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program, founded by Dr. Jay Alberts, a neuroscientist at the Cleveland Clinic, and Cathy Frazier, a woman living with Parkinson’s disease.

It was also because of RAGBRAI that Nan and her husband were asked to join a climb up Kilimanjaro in 2011. That climb, Nan says, was the hardest thing she had ever done, and it took a tremendous toll. However, she didn’t let that stop her feisty spirit, and she has since trekked to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal and ridden in RAGBRAI 2012! 

Of her cycling and climbing experiences, Nan states: “The profound joy of dipping my bike wheel in the Mississippi, ascending Kilimanjaro and standing among fluttering prayer flags high in Nepal, gains greater meaning when people tell me my efforts inspire them to find strength to cycle, to exercise or to walk around the block. I do not believe that people can do anything they set their minds to. We have physical, mental and fiscal limitations. Nonetheless, it’s likely that we can be in control of our lives and our bodies more than we expect.”

Following are some of my favorite quotes from Nan’s book. I hope not only that they inspire you to read her book on an upcoming, blustery autumn day, but that they also give you hope.

  • “We can give PD a specific place in our world, but [we mustn’t give it] control over our lives.”
  • “I’m not going to tell you that everything’s going to be alright. I am going to tell you that [you have] grit.”
  • “People with neurodegenerative diseases are capable of far more than they expect.”
  • “The more you focus on pain the more debilitated and closed in you become.”
  • “We can’t control what happens to us but we can control our attitudes or how we respond.”

And my favorite:

  • “Forget PD — Go fly-fishing!”

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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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Senior Helpers Sending 6 Rock Steady Boxing Coaches from North Carolina to Group’s Conference

Rock Steady Boxing conference

Aware that non-contact boxing routines can improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients, Senior Helpers is sending six Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) coaches to the organization’s national conference.

Senior Helpers, a leading nationwide provider of at-home care, will sponsor the Wilmington, North Carolina, coaches in attending the second annual Rock Steady Boxing Coaches Conference to be held Sept. 4–6 in Phoenix.

At the conference, Rock Steady-certified coaches from around the world will learn the latest in techniques and practices. The non-profit Rock Steady Boxing uses a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum to help slow Parkinson’s progression and enable patients to better manage disease symptoms.

“As a care-based company, we understand firsthand how important it is to stay current with the skills and techniques that help our clients,” Mari Baxter, senior vice president of operations for Senior Helpers, said a press release.

“Rock Steady Boxing has been one of our most valued partners the past several years and the organization’s commitment to helping improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients is an exemplary example of humanitarianism,” Baxter added. “It’s our honor to help these coaches advance their skillsets and enhance their instruction.”

In general, research shows that exercise helps Parkinson’s patients maintain the abilities needed for a degree of independence in everyday life. In particular, exercises that stress gross motor movement, core strength, balance, and rhythm can positively affect patients’ range of motion, gait, posture, and flexibility.

The Senior Helpers-sponsored coaches are Mike Wilson, co-founder of Rock Steady Boxing of Wilmington and a former Jiu-Jitsu instructor; martial artist Val Wilson, who co-founded Rock Steady Boxing of Wilmington; Christy Gillenwater, a fitness studio owner who is certified as both a personal trainer and medical fitness specialist; multi-sport athlete Ryan Gillespie, a health and wellness veteran; Sheryl Johnson, a former police officer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013; and Jim Cosper, a U.S. Navy veteran and Parkinson’s patient.

“Parkinson’s disease hits close to home for so many people, myself included,” Baxter said. “My husband Bill was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and has found Rock Steady to be an immense help in his overall wellbeing and day-to-day health. He was so resistant after his diagnosis, but now he’s their biggest convert.”

Founded in 2006 as the nation’s first boxing program of its kind, RSB is specifically designed to help patients at all stages of Parkinson’s. Visit this site to find a local class.

With more than 300 franchised businesses, Senior Helpers was founded in 2001 to help senior citizens with age-related illnesses and mobility challenges remain in their home.

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Useful Fitness and Informational Resources for Parkinson’s Patients

internet resources

More than 10 million people are living with Parkinson’s disease around the world. While this number seems shocking, it also means that we have a lot of people fighting for change, relief, a cure, or a solution to some of the difficulties that Parkinson’s yields. Research and interest in Parkinson’s are making connections easier, and more and more gyms are offering Parkinson’s fitness programs. Whether you’re looking for fitness resources, a good book or blog, or educational platforms, the following internet links might offer some inspiration.

Fitness resources

Exercise is healthy for everyone, but there’s evidence that it helps Parkinson’s patients manage certain symptoms of the disease. Parkinson’s specific exercise classes are popping up all across the country. How do you find a group that fits your interests? What if you don’t have access to a Rock Steady Boxing location? Or what if boxing isn’t the right fit for you?

Adaptive Training Foundation

The Adaptive Training Foundation aims to empower its participants through high-intensity athletics and community building. Its programs — Redefine, Reignite, Redeploy — help adaptive athletes push themselves to new levels of fitness, compete successfully, and challenge themselves physically. The facility is located in Texas.

PD Movement Lab (New York)

Pamela Quinn opened the first PD Movement Lab in 2006 to explore Parkinson’s through dance. A patient herself, Quinn uses her background in dance to experiment with a variety of techniques in order to help her students find solutions to mobility issues. PD Movement Lab is a New York company with branches in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but the organization is expanding its online presence to make dance accessible to anyone with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s Cycling Coach

There’s evidence that pedaling really fast can help reduce Parkinson’s symptoms by up to 35 percent. The people at Parkinson’s Cycling Coach aim to train people to lead indoor cycling classes, which will help patients benefit year-round. Cycling can be done at home or with a group, indoors or outdoors. And if you’re looking for a goal, Pedaling 4 Parkinson’s is an annual race that takes place in Colorado. The proceeds are donated entirely to Parkinson’s research. Having an event to train for might give you a bit of inspiration.

Informational resources

As Parkinson’s progresses, it becomes more difficult to leave the house. Physical developments make transportation tricky, and sometimes you just don’t want to be seen struggling. Resources are out there. Whether you’re seeking information or a way to exercise on your own, the internet is full of incredible platforms.

American Parkinson Disease Association

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is a grassroots organization dedicated to fighting Parkinson’s by way of fundraising, education, and public elevation. ADPA provides current news that’s related to developments in the disease and offers a location finder to help you get in touch with Parkinson’s resources near you. Its website includes information that’s tailored to specialized communities, like veterans, first responders, bilingual patients, and early-onset patients (those diagnosed before the age of 50).

Stanford Medicine

Standford Medicine, in partnership with APDA, has an incredible community outreach webpage. It includes information on local support groups and exercise classes, and offers resources like fact sheets, books, exercise videos, and live-streaming fitness classes for a wider internet audience. The “Living with PD” category touches on topics like the effect of Parkinson’s on driving ability and shares the stories of individuals’ experiences with deep brain stimulation surgery. This is a terrific resource for those who want credible information about Parkinson’s.

The right stuff

Navigating change can easily become overwhelming, and everyone’s experience with the progression of Parkinson’s is different. This can make it hard to find resources that are relevant to your situation. With a click of the mouse, however, you can access a range of information sources and fitness programs that might help you manage your disease. These websites are good places to start.

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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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Exercising with Parkinson’s Disease: Try It and See the Benefits

panic attacks

I began taking Rock Steady Boxing classes about nine months ago. The exercise program is tailored for those with Parkinson’s disease, and if you’re like me, you’ve dragged your feet and refused to go for any number of reasons or excuses. Maybe there isn’t a class near you. Or perhaps you feel too tired and don’t think you’ll have enough energy to do what’s required. Maybe money or time is the issue.

Do me a favor. 

Just consider it

I was reluctant to go. Mostly because I’m an introvert — yes, I really am. I have to push myself to get out there. And so I did. I forced myself to check it out almost nine months ago, and I am still going. 

I recently read a discussion in a Parkinson’s Facebook group I belong to. Someone asked what decision others had made in their lives since their diagnosis that had made the most positive difference to their health. I was surprised by the number of answers about exercise. It seems logical to me now, but before attending boxing classes, I may have had a different response, such as increasing my chocolate intake.

We are meant to be active

A 2018 study looked at the reduction of movement in neurological diseases. Commenting on the research, one of its authors, Dr. Raffaella Adami, told the journal Frontiers that we are meant to “walk, run, crouch to sit, and use our leg muscles to lift things.”

According to the article, “Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells — some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives.”

When I joined my boxing class, I was surprised by the number and variety of exercises we had to do. I had figured that activities would be specifically related to boxing. We spend the first half of the class on exercises such as jumping jacks, squats, leg raises, jump-rope, stair steps, balance beam, ladder steps, box steps, pushups, lunges, planks, and various activities using punching bags, jelly bags, and speed bags. Then we practice punches with our coaches. We close out our session with a game or competition — my favorite part.

Many participants in the Facebook group discussion agreed that their decision to join a Rock Steady Boxing class had been beneficial. The next two most popular activities were walking and yoga. I don’t think that it matters which form of exercise you choose as long as you are doing something.

See the benefits

May I encourage you to start an exercise routine if you haven’t already. You’ll soon realize that you can do more than you could before, and you may find that your overall well-being has improved.

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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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