Exercise can be a Boon for People with Parkinson’s and Anyone!

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The more I research about health, the more I learn how daily fitness is so crucial to our well being. If you think about how our bodies were designed from the time of our ancestors,  we were active, moving people out of necessity foraging for food in a fight or flight state.

Last week I was on vacation in Cuba and I noticed pretty quickly how the men and women had less of a belly, their posture was less hunched over and their necks less protruding then where I live in Canada.  Cuba is a third world country with less access to computers, junk food and where many are living in poverty but are way more active walking everywhere.  It made me think about living in a sitting culture why we are so slump about challenging our bodies to do more?

Some of it is hereditary and other maybe the environment one grows up in. Not all of us are athletes.

We complain about many environmental factors that are impacting our health (our food, pollutants, etc), the choice of moving our bodies daily in some type of rigorous exercise is not an external problem. It’s our own mindset.

Getting in the habit of exercising daily is not as difficult as one may think to fit into your  schedule. Really thinking about moving your body daily in a variety of ways can range from rigorous exercise to moderate throughout your day is a normal way to live. it doesn’t have to be intensive everyday.

For people living with Parkinson’s, daily exercise is essential for managing symptoms and can also delay symptoms significantly.

In a recent article in the New York Times, more research and studies are proving how exercising is incredibly effective to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms. This also holds the same truth for anyone as we age.

Read the article here.

Scott Newman who started Rocksteady Boxing in the USA and who developed Parkinson’s at age 40, experienced significant changes in his symptoms with increasing exercise. He recognized that Parkinson’s disease is not a muscle wasting disease such as MS or ALS which many people think.  Scott Newman believes that the brain forgets how to tell the muscles what to do and through can retrain the brain to move more effectively. I’d like to think it’s as simple as that but knowingly with conscious effort it is possible.

High intensity exercises also improve how the brain processes movement and increases motor agility and overall function. It improves plasticity of the brain, protects against nervous system degeneration , and reverses other motor deficits.

Keeping your interest in daily exercising  can be really challenging on some days.

MIX IT UP between low, moderate and high intensity with fun activities.

Go for:

  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Tai chi
  • Qigong
  • Cycling
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning your home

Your exercise routine should make up 150 minutes or more a week – that’s 30 minutes a day over 5 days a week or 2 and half hours a week.

The mix should look like this

  • 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise four to five times a week
  • 20-60 minutes high intensity three times a week

Gradual progression of exercise increases with intensity overtime

The test for intensity levels is measured by:

  • Low intensity – if you can carry on a conversation while working out
  • Moderate level – if you can talk with effort and work out
  • High intensity – difficulty talking and focused on workout.

 

I know I get bored doing the same exercise every day  and mix it up with other activities to keep on moving. I walk intensely for two of the four walks I do with my dog each day plus pilates, swimming and I’m starting Nia a dance based exercise throughout the week.

There are so many options you can try and you’ll feel great  because it’s not about being thin, looking a certain way or being super fit- it’s about keeping your body flexible and strong so moving, walking, climbing stairs and getting up from the floor isn’t a struggle.

In good health and happiness,

Rani