During my nursing career, I spent many years working as part of a cardiac rehabilitation team. My role involved exercising with people who were recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery. We would teach them to exercise safely and effectively. We exercised with them to help them gain the skills and confidence they needed to continue independently. We involved family members. After a few weeks, in the formal course evaluation, participants would report:
Feeling better physically
Feeling better mentally
Feeling less stressed
Losing weight (if desired)
Enjoying life more
Feeling less anxious
Those of us running the course could see these improvements before looking at the formal evaluation. The transformation in people’s physical fitness over a seven week programme of exercise and education never ceased to amaze me. These men and women of all ages who had experienced a life threatening cardiac condition were not only physically fitter, they regained confidence and that in turn helped them return to other activities they enjoyed. Many became fitter than they had ever been and as a consequence, were happier and healthier. For years I have marvelled at what exercise could achieve.
So, when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago I didn’t hesitate to take up a range of activities to help me keep as fit as I could be. I was lucky, I had the knowledge and the resources to take up a range of activities. I found a brilliant personal trainer (thank you Frederic Riboldi), a great training partner (thank you Sharon) and loved going to the gym and I found a love of cycling (thank you Cyclopaths).
Parkinson’s inevitably progresses but the evidence is that it progresses slower than if I wasn’t exercising. This is a great motivator in itself but there are all the other other benefits too. Exercise has the power to transform lives.
In an ideal world, everyone with Parkinson’s would have access to and be supported to exercise regularly to enable them to live as well as they can.
Sports Parkinson’s aims to do just this. It’s a brilliant initiative, please take a look, register and encourage friends and family to do the same. Be involved from the start of something that promises to make a huge difference to the lives of people living with Parkinson’s.