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Wake Up and Fight Parkinson's with Exercise

By Jackie Russell, RN

 

Parkinsonís disease (PD) remains, for the most part, a mystery of medical science.  For reasons unknown, certain brain cells stop producing a substance called dopamine.  The lack of dopamine affects an individualís movement, strength and balance.  PD causes a slow, yet progressive deterioration in function, taking many years to run its course.  When the diagnosis of PD is made, you experience a life-altering event.  It is not a condition you would desire, but PD does have the capacity to cause you to reassess your priorities and make lifestyle choices that can affect the course of the disease.

An emerging reality is the positive effect of exercise on the course of this disease.  An exercise agenda may offer stimulation to the various neurological pathways, increasing the capacity to counteract the progression of symptoms.  The exercise plan is a ďWake Up Call,Ē giving one a sense of purpose and direction, offering the opportunity to proactively improve conditions such as stability, flexibility, and management of tremor.  More importantly, it helps you to understand that you may have Parkinsonís disease, but it does not have you.

David Zid,  an ACE, APG certified personal trainer and president of Columbus Health Works, in collaboration with a local surgeon, Thomas H. Mallory, M.D., have authored a user-friendly guide, detailing a Parkinsonís - specific exercise plan that can be used daily.  Zid is an energetic trainer in the central Ohio area that has taken a specific interest in designing fitness regimens for individuals afflicted with Parkinsonís.  Dr. Mallory, a prominent and internationally renowned orthopaedic total joint surgeon was diagnosed with PD several years ago.  He has found that his enthusiasm for exercise has actually improved many of the symptoms of this progressive neurologic disease.  He has been using Zidís program for the last two years and is ecstatic with the results including improvement in balance, strength and flexibility. They both feel that these obviously positive results should be shared with all individuals with PD, from the newly diagnosed to those in the well-advanced stages of this affliction. This manual is in the process of publication and will soon be available for purchase, including a corresponding video. 

 The workbook describes and demonstrates specific exercises tailored to the Parkinsonís patient.  It requires a mental and physical commitment to a daily routine. With this routine, all parts of the body are challenged, from the dexterity and flexibility of the fingers, hands, and feet to stretching the shoulders, back and hips.  Emphasis is also placed on activities of daily living that frequently become a challenge, such as rising from a chair, getting out of bed, moving about in crowds, walking over uneven ground.  The Wake Up Call agenda is a metaphor for an attitude that commences each day as you realize there is an opportunity to modify the progression of this condition.  Dr. Mallory feels that the challenge presented to the individual with PD is to never give up.  ďWe must continuously pursue a positive and active approach with our exercise regime.  It is important that we all leave a legacy and are remembered as those who were privileged with the opportunity offered to manage PD.Ē

Has exercise been proven beneficial for the individual with PD, or is it just a casual relationship?  How does an exercise agenda influence the symptoms of this disease?  Well, exercise has long been proven advantageous to everyoneís general health.  Aerobic activity (any movement that increases the heart rate) strengthens the heart, maintains lung function and keeps muscles strong.  But it appears that regular exercise may also impact the brain and nervous system.  An exciting study out of Pittsburgh has shown that forced exercise had a major impact on rats that were given a toxin that induced Parkinsonís disease.  This study demonstrated that exercise appears to prevent loss of brain cells that worsens this disease.  There are numerous other published studies supporting that daily exercise does indeed improve the ability to move in the individual with PD.  These findings overwhelming show that a program of exercise therapy combined with appropriate medication has a positive effect on symptoms.

When your ability to move improves, so does your feeling of accomplishment and sense of well being.  Scientific evidence shows that not only can motor function improve, but mood and a ďfeeling of well beingĒ is clearly related to routine activity.  This manual will get you started and walk you simply through every exercise.  No matter how long you have been diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease, itís not too late to start, and itís never too early.

This manual includes detailed exercises that are divided into easy to follow sections including:

  • Wake Up Call
  • Walking and Balance Drills
  • Cardiovascular Exercise
  • Strength Training
  • Workout with Weights
  • Non-Weight (Core) Days
  • Facial and Voice exercises
  • Night Time Stretching

Exciting news for those with Parkinsonís?  We think so.  Get started on a fitness plan and see the results for yourself. 

Jackie Russell is a nurse in Columbus, Ohio and has a dedicated interest in the treatment of Parkinsonís patients.  Her intrigue with Parkinsonís disease (PD) began when her mother-in-law was afflicted and eventually succumbed to this progressive illness.  She has collaborated with Dr. Mallory and a professional fitness trainer, David Zid, to develop a Parkinsonís-specific exercise plan, including helping to author a manual detailing the specifics of the program.  Jackie can be reached at Run1176@aol.com.
 

 

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