CornerStone Blog

Month: March 2021

How People With Parkinson’s Disease Can Stay Active During The Pandemic

For people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), staying active with regular exercise is important in maintaining good motor function and overall wellbeing.  Over the past few years, many fitness programs designed specifically for people with PD have been developed.  They are highly effective, but they are also typically tied to a gym or involve in-person classes that take place outside the home.  Unfortunately, the covid-19 pandemic has completely disrupted these routines. So, the question is – how can people with PD stay active during this challenging time?

People with Parkinson’s Disease are at high risk

The Corona Virus has hit many special populations very hard.  People with PD are considered at higher risk of developing serious complications because they are typically older and have underlying medical conditions.  Until individuals with PD get vaccinated (and perhaps even afterward), they and their caregivers must remain vigilant about following CDC recommendations.  As most of us now know, physical distancing, the wearing of masks and regular sanitization of surfaces is crucial.  But even given those limitations, it is possible for people with Parkinson’s Disease to get regular exercise.

Safe Exercise Options for People with Parkinson’s

As long as people can keep a safe social distance, then the first recommendation is to get outside!  Take a walk, jog or bike ride when possible. Fresh air is important. Just ensure that it can be done at a distance from other people and go for it!  As always, people with PD should check in with their neurologist to make sure the exercises of their choice are safe to perform. And, given the recent weather, it’s also important to make sure that all outdoor surfaces are clear, dry and not at all slippery before heading out.

Another way that people with PD can stay active is by making use of the many virtual training options now available.  Right now, there are a multitude of online exercise options to choose from.  These allow people to work out safely in their own homes.  All that’s needed is an internet connection. 

Wellness Coach Michael Strouse interviews Parkinson’s Fitness Specialists Bart Lorenzo and Bev Reilly – and some surprise guests!

Cornerstone’s Parkinson’s Fit Program helps people with PD stay active at home

Prior to the pandemic, Cornerstone offered a robust (and growing) Parkinson’s Fitness Program.  Based on two exercise systems with proven efficacy (Rock Steady Boxing and PWR! Moves), our program offered in-person classes regularly throughout the week. 

At the start of the pandemic, our team transitioned quickly towards offering the same great program virtually. This allowed our participants to do the same effective workouts in the safety of their own home.  And as a result, people kept the gains they made earlier and continued to add to them.    

This was critically important to our staff.  Bart Lorenzo and Bev Reilly, Cornerstone’s Parkinson’s Fitness Specialists, were committed to making sure our PD participants could keep moving.

From Bart:

There is a simple saying, “You have to move to improve”. When you think of exercise and the areas that it improves and how it relates to those living with Parkinson’s, it all makes sense. Improvement in the areas of Mental Acuity, Risk of Falling, Self Confidence, Physical Strength and Endurance are all areas that someone living with Parkinson’s will encounter.  Exercise will help someone living with Parkinson’s take control over their life, rather than letting Parkinson’s control them. 

 In 2020, when COVID-19 seemed to control a lot of our daily activities, we have been able to keep our members moving using Zoom. Our sessions are both fun workouts and social gathering for both members, care givers and us coaches.

From Bev:

Here’s what’s important - you just have to keep moving 8 days a week!! (I have said this at every class for years). Make your exercise a priority, a part of your everyday routine. Exercise is just like your medication. Put your exercise in ink on your calendar! You can’t erase ink.  Just keep moving!

Check out our Parkinson's Fitness Program Brochure. Also, visit the Parkinson's Program on our website.

For more information about Parkinson's Disease, we recommend visiting the Parkinson's Foundation.

Workout At Home Using Everyday Objects

With a little creativity, anyone can turn a space in their home into a home gym. It is true that a dedicated workout space and proper equipment can make things a little easier – and set the “mood” for a workout. But in a pinch, it’s still possible to get a decent workout at home using everyday objects most of us already have laying around.

Yoga Using Everyday Objects

Fortunately, yoga classes don’t require a lot of equipment and rarely require a large workout space. In lieu of a yoga mat, you could use a small rug. Just make sure it’s non-slip or placed upon another larger rug for traction.

If you use a yoga block for hand support in a standing posture, a low table or stool may suffice. If a step is being used under your foot, sometimes the bottom step on a set of stairs will do the trick. If the block is to be used for hip or back support, a large book may do the trick.

Yoga straps are easy to substitute. Look around for an old necktie, scarf, robe tie or towel. And don’t forget about a chair. If you need support or have trouble getting up and down the floor, a chair is essential.

Workout at home using everyday objects - a towel as a yoga strap.
Barre Using Everyday Objects

The most essential pieces of equipment for you home barre workout are a non-slip floor, a sturdy support (this can be a chair or any other sturdy piece of furniture in your home) and a pair of lightweight dumbbells for added resistance. If you don’t own a pair of dumbbells, read on for some excellent swaps.

From Barre Instructor Catie Tritremmel:
“You can use a rolled up towel to replace a squishy ball and water bottles to replace light weights.”

Workout at home using everyday objects - a chair in place of a ballet barre.

Weight Training Using Everyday Objects

You might consider it impossible to participate in livestreaming classes like Group Active, Group Power or Tighten and Tone without a barbell and a few sets of dumbbells. But this isn’t true! There are plenty of everyday objects you can substitute for weight training.

In place of lighter dumbbells, consider using canned food or smaller water bottles fille with water, rocks or sand. In place of heavier dumbbells, grab a couple of 5 gallon water jugs and again fill with something that adds weight. A 72 oz jug of laundry soap weighs about 5lbs, and like a water jug, has a handle making it easy to lift and manuever.

For squats, lunges and other leg work done with a bar on the back, use a backpack and fill it with something heavy. Books, canned goods and bags of pet food or sand can add serious weight to a backpack.

In place of gliding discs, grab some paper plates. Yes, it’s that simple!

Finally, don’t forget chairs and stairs. A chair can be used for anything from step-ups to tricep dips. Turn your bottom step into a “bench” for pushups (hands up for something a little easier and feet up for something a little harder).

From Group Fitness Instructor Alyson Zimmer:
“This past summer, I used a hose as battle ropes, a staircase to do offset squats, jump lunges, reverse lunges and calf raises and push-ups. Broom sticks are good for stretching. I’ve had people use couch throw pillows as balls for ball slams (gets your heart rate up and it’s great for core activation!!). I’ve also had participants use gallon water containers for farmers walks.”

Workout at home using everyday objects - heavy cans as dumbbells.

From Group Fitness Instructor Morgan Fink:  
"Here are some quick and simple ways to execute basic moves from Group Power using dumbbells (or water bottles, cans, etc)."

Using dumbbells in place of a barbell to execute basic Group Power moves.

Don't let a lack of equipment prevent you from participating in some of our most popular workouts at home. Whether you are staying safe during the pandemic, traveling or unable to get to the club for other reasons, you can still workout with Cornerstone!

Check out our CLASS SCHEDULES.