Secrets to Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease, Part 2
This is the second in a four part series on secrets to living well with Parkinson’s disease (PD). In these blog articles I’m sharing tips that have worked for me over the last ten years to beat back my major PD symptoms. As I mentioned in my last blog, I can honestly say that I have fewer tremors, less muscle rigidity, better balance, and am in better physical shape now than I was ten years ago. Don’t get me wrong, Parkinson’s disease has still affected me. My stamina, concentration, and multi-tasking abilities are not what they used to be. That said, all in all my Parkinson’s symptoms have decreased rather than increased over the years.
Here’s a bold statement for you to think about. Secret number two is something that I’ve found to be more important than medicine in the battle against Parkinson’s disease. I didn’t say it replaces medicine. I said that I believe it’s more important than medicine. While medications mask the symptoms of PD, this treatment has been found to be neuro-protective and can actually improve your movement, balance, and reduce your tremors. Researchers have studied it. neurologists and movement disorder specialists around the world recommend it, but few people with Parkinson’s that I have encountered really put the energy into doing it. I’m talking about exercise. Yeah I know, you’ve heard about exercise and PD. The problem is that either you’ve never discussed the actual benefits of exercise on PD symptoms with someone who’s used it properly, or you think you know how hard an exercise program will be so you’ve decided not to try.
To take the stigma of the word “exercise” away let’s use the word “activity”. So, what’s the best activity to reduce the affects of Parkinson’s disease? I would like to share some specific pointers on the type and frequency of activity/exercise that have helped me reduce the motor effects of Parkinson’s. I’m not suggesting that you need to do the same things that I’ve done. Rather, you can take the concepts behind what has worked for me and incorporate them into the activities that you enjoy.
Researchers have found, and my personal experience confirms, that intense activity works best to rebuild neuropathways, increase coordination, and improve balance. Don’t let the term “intense” frighten you. Find something you enjoy and do it with intensity. What kind of activity? That’s up to you. Do you like tennis, kickboxing, racquet ball? How about cycling, jogging, or even power walking?
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, and it will progress whether you do something about it or not. It’s vital that you do some sort of activity every day. Learn what gives you the best results and do it often. I’m not saying that you exercise to exhaustion and break into a heavy sweat every day. If you feel that you overdid it on your last workout then lighten up a little. Listen to your body. It’s OK to take it easy some days, but do something every day, even if it’s just stretching and then taking a long walk. And by the way, when you take that walk exaggerate your steps and reach out with your arms as you walk. Mentally feel yourself pushing through your body’s tendency to constrict your movements.
- Make the commitment to build new neuropathways and better coordination.
- Find something that you enjoy doing so you’ll be more likely to do it.
- Listen to your body. Learn what works for you.
- Push yourself when you can and take it easy when you have to.
- Above all, do something physical every day.
Parkinson’s may be a degenerative disease, but you can take control of your life and improve the quality of your days. In our next article we’ll take a look at an herbal remedy that I’ve seen make a real difference, and discuss the truth behind some alternative therapies for PD. Until then, decide to help yourself by finding and doing an activity that works for you.