I have Parkinson’s, but still teach Parkinson’s exercise classes. The classes are vigorous and challenging, but always rewarding. But like many who are newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), I isolated myself and kept silent about my disease to friends and even family.
Everyone's Parkinson's is different. Each person at each stage has different experiences. For me, Parkinson’s progressed slowly and gave me time to adjust. I've now had visible tremors for over six years. It's challenging but I don’t let it interfere with my daily life and activities. After gradually coming to terms with this huge change in my life, I began researching Parkinson's exercise programs. I added interval aerobics to my exercise routines and set out to begin a Parkinson's exercise class.
I was an English and history teacher for many years and would simultaneously teach fitness classes at local gyms as well. I had my fitness instructor certifications, so I began studying the Parkinson’s classes and soon began teaching others. Today, I teach a Parkinson’s exercise class for lower and higher exercise levels. As a member of the Parkinson’s community, I find it important to volunteer my time as an instructor. The classes are free!
About the Parkinson’s exercise class:
My fabulous students teach me so much! Each class we share insights, humor, fun and exercise. I’m inspired by everyone who participates. We have a wide age range, attendees are anywhere from 49 to 87. I always remind the class that the purpose of exercise is to do it every day, especially to help manage our symptoms. People with Parkinson's need to work on multiple, specified exercises: vocal and facial, balance and stretching, walking and gait, as well as cardio and strength training. The class has been very well received. Each class is full. There is even a waiting list.
Exercise and Parkinson's:
There is a wealth of information and research at the National Parkinson Foundation website under Treatments / Exercise. According to the webpage, "For people with PD exercise is not only healthy, but a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities… Exercise is associated with a better sense of well being, even across stages and severity of the disease. There is a growing consensus among researchers about the short and long-term benefits of exercise for people with PD."
My recommendations to you:
- Stretch - every day
- Practice balance and walking exercises - every day
- Practice facial and vocal exercises - every day
- Practice cardiovascular exercise – 3 to 5 times a week (with clearance from your doctor)
- Strength train – 2 to 3 times a week
- Core or abdominal work – 2 to 3 times a week