By Gill Stewart at
During this time of isolation, it’s more important than ever to consider those who face challenges every single day. The group pictured with their Instructor Maria from the ‘WALX with soles ‘ group in Reading are part of a PD UK group who enjoyed meeting up to walk with their Activator poles. Sadly this is not possible now.
World Parkinson’s Disease Day is a way to reflect on how simple things we are now missing, (like heading out for a walk alone) may not be possible for some folk, even in normal times.
As it outlines in this article from Parkinson’s UK GET INVOLVED IN WORLD PD DAY if you know 66 people you are likely to know somebody who has Parkinson’s disease.
This disease affects the brain and gradually gets worse over time and although there are many treatments and therapies – there is no cure. Those with PD display a range of movement symptons which typically fall into three categories – ‘freezing’ ‘tremors’ and ‘slowness’ These can be difficult to notice or very obvious and change according to a number of factors including tiredness, stress and the drug cycle.
One thing that is very important for all sufferers is EXERCISE and our mission has always been to help those working with PD groups to find solutions for folk of all abilities. We have lots of walkers with PD at various stages and with varying symptons but we can definitely say that all have found walking with poles is a positive experience. At these times of isolation we also are busy working with PD physios to prepare some videos to help those not able to get out and join in group sessions – watch this space and in the meantime this testimonial from Audrey Winkler might spur you on to visit the Parkinson’s UK Exercise HUB to find out more
“I have been working with the same personal trainer for more than 20 years. Previously I had never been interested in exercise but when my knees started to become troublesome I was advised that exercise was the one thing that would help to delay the eventual knee replacement operation. So I started exercising regularly, visiting the gym two or three times a week and managed to delay the first knee replacement for over 14 years, with the second one taking place a few years later. My mobility was not brilliant and I had to use a walking stick.
I slipped and fractured my hip in April 2017 but was not aware of the fracture for three weeks. By that time the hip was quite stable so it was treated conservatively by rest, and no operation was needed. In June that year I had a minor stroke which fortunately left no after effects, and then in January 2018 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The main symptom was a tremor in my left hand. A Datscan indicated that I had moderate Parkinson’s and the neurologist said that I had probably had it for 5 to 10 years. I was immediately prescribed Sinemet Plus which I have been taking ever since. The tremor went after a couple of weeks and has not returned, apart from two very brief occasions when I was very stressed.
I wanted to find out as much as possible about Parkinson’s and was interested to read that the only known way to slow up the progress of the disease was to exercise as much as possible. This was the route I wanted to follow. I continued to visit the gym twice weekly and joined a class entitled “Strictly no Falls” . This is one hour a week with exercises for balance and strength. Here I was introduced to “Smoveys”, equipment designed to help people with Parkinson’s, stimulating neuro plasticity and enjoyable to use. I have now invested in my own Smoveys so that I can do these exercises at home.
I had read somewhere that Nordic walking was helpful for people with Parkinson’s and I contacted Samantha Armstrong who is an expert and has taught many people how to use the equipment. She came to see me and told me about the Activator poles. They differ from standard Nordic poles in that they do not have the loops at the top but instead there is a little shelf on which you can push downwards. This helps to maintain a more upright posture and therefore also helps with breathing. I now use these poles regularly. Last year I managed to complete a 2 mile sponsored walk for Parkinson’s, using the poles – something I could never have envisaged beforehand. I entered the same walk this year, but of course it has been postponed. I also joined a class – Belly dancing – which I found really interesting, and fun. I usually visit a physiotherapist every week, and the combination of all these has helped to keep me moving.
Now that all these outside classes etc are on hold it is not easy to work out what to do at home. I am now 85, I still use my Smoveys, and can walk around our 1 acre garden using my poles. I have found an online seated class for people with Parkinson’s which I am doing every day. It is so important to keep being active as much as possible, even more so in the current circumstances, so that, once this emergency is over, we can return to normal activity in a good state of health.
So, please keep moving, whatever your preferred exercise. Try to find a way to continue at home, and look online to find something new to try. You will feel all the better for it, you will sleep better, and once things return to normal, you will be in a position to enjoy your life again.
If you would like any info on suitable exercise for PD and where to get the support you need – e mail us firstname.lastname@example.org
For therapists or fitness professionals who work with PD patients or groups we now have an on line training module