I already do a lot of exercise so why should I do a Parkinson’s (PD) exercise class?
The short answer to this question is that other exercises don’t specifically target the physical problems typically faced by people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
For exercise to be beneficial it needs to be challenging and targeted to what you want to achieve. If you want to get fitter you work on your cardiovascular fitness and if you want to get stronger you need to do resisted strength training exercises. Keeping strong and fit is important and both types of exercise have been shown to be very beneficial for people with PD. So if you already have such a programme that works for you; whether it’s a home programme, online, at a gym, in a class or one to one it doesn’t matter, keep doing it!
However, in addition you could really benefit from doing a programme that targets some of the physical problems typically encountered by people with PD; and the sooner you start, the better and easier it is.
So what sort of typical physical problems do we mean?
It is likely that since being diagnosed with PD you will have experienced one or more of the following:
- Your movements have become smaller and slower eg smaller stride length, slower walking speed, smaller handwriting
- You have reduced or no arm swing when walking in one or both arms
- You tend to lean forwards
- Turning around and / or getting out of a car is difficult
- Sometimes it takes several attempts before you stand up
- Walking and talking is challenging and tends to slow you down or you stop talking
- Sometimes your feet stick to the ground
- Putting on a coat has become difficult
- You’ve swapped which hand you use to brush your hair or shave as its easier
PD specific exercise classes aim to address these issues. The exercises focus on encouraging large amplitude, powerful movements to help you overcome the small, slow ones, and exercise all areas of the body. Balance, posture, turning, stride length, arm swing and dual tasking are all aspects worked upon in a PD Exercise class; and as with all exercise, keeping it challenging is how you learn and progress.