It Is Exercise!
Diagnosed at 47
I want to share what I think has made a positive effect on my progression, symptoms and quality of life. IT IS EXERCISE!!! If you are not exercising with this disease, you are not taking advantage of one of the simplest and most effective forms of treatment to fight back against PD. Since diagnosis and before, exercise was and is a priority in my life. My regular neurologist and my movement disorder specialist both have told me that I am much better than others at my stage of diagnosis and they wish they could convince their patients to exercise. Five days a week, I attend a strength training class at our local municipal recreation center. It is 45 minutes of strenuous calisthenics. When I first started the class, I could not do many of the exercises, even simple sit ups and leg lifts. This was approximately two years ago. Now I am doing all of the exercises. I am limber, my balance, posture and coordination has improved and I have toned my muscles and lost weight.
My medications have remained at the same dosage for four years, the side effects are minimal and I am still very active. I think strength training is good for the muscles affected by PD and works for me, but may not work for everyone. Any form of exercise for 30 to 45 minutes each day will also have a positive effect. Walking, chair exercises, mini-weights (5 lbs or less) or, if you are able, simple calisthenics. Of course, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program and he/she may have a program to recommend for your personal situation. Give it a try and see if you don't see results!!!
When I was diagnosed in 2002 at the age of 47, I am sure that I do not have to tell any of you the the shock that reeled through me when the doctor said, "I believe you are in the early stages of Parkinson's disease." I was dumb-founded and from that point on heard literally nothing else he said to me. Thinking I was going to hear, "There is nothing wrong with you, perhaps you are drinking too much coffee", this was like being punched in the stomach. However, I will not dwell on the negative struggles, symptoms or the medication experiences I've had over the years.
I pray for all of us that research comes up with something, anything, to stop the progression. I'm not going down without a fight!