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Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an increasingly common condition for older adults. A neurological condition first described by James Parkinson in 1817, its symptoms include tremors, slowed movements, and loss of balance. Genes and environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides, can increase the risk of Parkinson’s, but the exact cause of the disease is still unknown. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with the disease, and exercise is one of them. Physical fitness is an essential part of any PD care plan. Though the exercises you can do may change as the disease progresses, it remains therapeutic for the mind and body to continue moving.
 
Touchmark resident Suzanne, who was diagnosed with PD in 2018, says, “Exercise is the only thing that really helps. It’s easy to be depressed when you’re diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease; you just want to sit on the couch or lay in bed and do nothing, but that makes the symptoms worse even with medication. We also do meditation with stretching and breathing exercises. It’s a full-body, full life here!”
 
Aqua therapy can be helpful for people with PD depending on a couple of things: the temperature of the water and the exercises being performed. Look for a pool that has warm water, which can be soothing to joints. Because water lessens the impact placed on the body during exercise, doing activities like water walking or resistance training with a foam barbell can be effective and fun. As a general rule, the pool temperature should be between 83 and 88°F.
 
Another great way to exercise is by participating in classes specifically designed for people with PD. PWR (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery)! Moves is a flexible and functional exercise approach that targets multiple symptoms and can be adapted to different stages of the disease. Inquire about this program at your nearest Touchmark community or look for classes at your local fitness center.
 
A part of Touchmark’s full-service retirement living is the unique programming, including PD support and resources. In addition to offering PWR! Moves classes, Touchmark offers other PD-specific exercise classes, including boxing for Parkinson’s, and support groups for those living with PD and their caretakers, loved ones, and families. Though this week wraps up Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Touchmark’s PD programming is a valuable resource all year long.
 

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