5 tips for exercising with parkinson's

We hear it all the time. If you have Parkinson’s, exercise, exercise, exercise. It can’t be said enough, because of the importance it plays in our quality of life. There is lot of information on which exercises are better for PD than others, but I think most agree the best one is the one you will keep doing. So here are a few tips to get started. Of course check with your doctor to help find what’s healthiest for you.

  1. First figure out your personality style. Will you be able to motivate yourself on a regular basis to do the activity or would it be helpful to partner with someone for added accountability? Do you want a structured class with set hours every week or do you want something more flexible where you can go at different times? Some people prepay for their classes so that they feel like they have to show up or lose their money. Others may go to a center where there are classes all day long and they can attend on a more flexible schedule. Do you like exercising with others or do you like the solitude of working out on your own? Thinking about the structure that would motivate you the best is important to help you stick with it.

  2. Start slow. The biggest reason I see people stopping an exercise program is that they overdo it in the beginning and end up quitting. One of the keys of staying with exercise is to make it a consistent part of your routine, and in the beginning, this may be more important than the exercise itself. So let’s say you’re going to start walking more regularly. Don’t start by planning for 3 days a week of long exhaustive hikes. Start with a short 10 minute walk from your house each day. It will start to become just a part of your day and from there you can make your walks longer, change the days and venue but you won’t have that beginners burnout.

  3. Make it easy. If you joined that great gym but it’s 45 minutes from your house or work, are you really going to go on a regular basis? That gym may have all the latest and greatest equipment, but if you aren’t using it then it ain’t that great. There may be a class easier to get to that might be more limited in what they offer, but if you’re using it more, then that’s the better choice.

  4. It doesn’t need to cost much. I know that for many people, the cost of joining classes, gyms, trainers, etc. can be out of their budget, but there are many alternatives to look into. There are many quality online classes that you can do in the privacy of your home for free. Yoga with Adriene is a fantastic online yoga channel. She posts full length classes every week and her archive of classes is the best. Fitness Blender has a variety of workouts that you can tailor by type, difficulty, time, and then save the classes you like to go back to. It has low impact, HIIT, weights, cardio, and much more.

    If you have cable TV and access to your PBS station or similar public broadcasting station, most have several exercise class series. Mine has Classical Stretch that I record each week on my DVR and now have 50 classes that are a treasure trove for me to use.

    Many community centers have inexpensive classes of all types. At a local community college here, there are several adult education programs that usually include an exercise class.

    Look for a YMCA or YWCA in your area. They are many times less expensive than a traditional gym and many have exercise classes specifically tailored to those with PD.

    Public swimming pools. We have a few local city pools that have hours specifically for lap swimming and other times free swim.

    I have a pair of light dumbbells that I can do a variety of exercises with, and if you look on Craigslist, you can find them very inexpensively.

    Then of course there is walking which is the cheapest. You can not only walk around your neighborhood but I like to choose another neighborhood. It’s fun to see other homes and shops. Walk in a park, on the beach, on a mountain trail, even in a shopping mall. The change of venue can be endlessly interesting.

  5. Just start. It doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t need to beat yourself up because you can’t do something perfectly. No matter what, you always feel better that you did it!

    Do you have any good tips for exercising with PD?

walking barefoot

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marc and i are lucky enough to live about 10 minutes from ala moana beach park and on some early mornings we like to walk down the beach barefoot. it feels incredible to feel the sand between your toes and see the beautiful ocean. it’s also an important exercise for me as it helps with my balance, allows my feet to move freely, strengthen, and stretch. it also helps with my dystonia and muscle cramping. i can feel my toes gripping the ground and i also feel the bottom of my feet which i don’t when i’m wearing shoes.

i read that our feet have 26 bones, 33 joints, and 100 muscles, tendons, and ligament, and that our feet were not meant to be in stiff shoes all day. there is a movement called earthing, which talks about how direct contact with your feet to the earth connects you to the energy of the earth. whether you subscribe to it or if it’s a little too new agey for you, walking barefoot just feels good and feels natural.

in hawaii we take off our shoes when we go indoors so we are used to being barefoot. however if you wear your shoes all day, it may seem odd at first to go without them. so just start with removing your shoes when you’re at home. once you get used to it, you’ll never want to go back! your feet will be thrilled to see the light of day, feel the fresh air, and feel the sensation of everything they are touching. imagine if we had gloves covering our hands all the time, even in the summer and indoors.

if you don’t have the luxury to walk on a beach, when the weather permits you might have a park or a grassy area that you could walk on. or take off your shoes for a short time while your gardening, or just walk to the mailbox barefoot. i’d love to know if find walking barefoot beneficial.

~kai