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