Tag Archives: exercise

Silence the Symptoms! Parkinson’s and Exercise

Do you ever scroll through Facebook and marvel at articles or fan pages showing the 75 year old who ran a marathon? Or the 65 year old who has the fitness level of a 35 year old? Just because one is aging — a fact no human can prevent — doesn’t mean muscle strength has to deteriorate if it is maintained through regular exercise. The unfortunate reality is, the adage “use it or lose it” is a well-established truth, according to a study in the Journal the Physician and Sports Medicine done in 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22030953.

What if one suffers from Parkinson’s Disease? Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that occurs when dopamine generating cells cease to function. It is classified as a movement disorder. Common symptoms of the disease include tremors, difficulty walking, and balancing, as well as loss of motor skills.

Can it be possible to slow down the progression of a disease that occurs when the dopamine generating cells cease to function? Can one reduce common and obvious symptoms of shaking, slowing of movements and difficulty walking? According to the American Academy of Neurology, the answer is yes. While Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, and there currently is no cure, exercise can slow down the speed and increase dopamine and neuroplasticity, according to NeuroReport 2013.

In 2006, a man living with Parkinson’s for fourteen years literally shuffled into the Ridgewood YMCA in Bergen County, New Jersey. After managing the disease with exercise, the 50-something year old began falling due to persistent Parkinson’s symptoms, and over time, his ability to exercise on his own became more difficult. Previously a runner, his goal was to achieve the highest fitness possible and worked with a trainer attacking each symptom as it occurred focusing on high intensity (particularly spinning), core, yoga and balance exercises. After several months, he was able to reduce his Parkinson’s medication due to the improvements from a regular exercise regime. In 2011, he had participated in the local Ridgewood 5K Run four years straight.

Enter Carol Livingstone. Carol is the Health and Fitness Director at the Ridgewood YMCA in Bergen County, New Jersey. She holds a degree and multiple certifications in training patients with Cancer as well as Parkinson’s Disease.

Motivated by this patient’s success, Carol began researching exercise programs that specifically addressed Parkinson’s patients. She wanted to focus on people who had early stage Parkinson’s to help them reduce their symptoms. She eventually discovered Delay the Disease, a group exercise program affiliated with the OhioHealth healthcare system in Columbus, Ohio. Delay the Disease was co-founded by David Zid, BA, ACE, APG Director of Movement Disorder and Musculoskeletal Wellness at OhioHealth and owner and president of DavidZid Health Works, a personal training facility and Jackie Russell, RN, BSN, CNOR, Co-Founder and program director. David and Jackie began training older adults who suffered from Parkinson’s and after years of evidence-based research, co-created a Parkinson’s-specific program for trainers. They both speak throughout the country spreading the program and its benefits. They also created a specialized program for caregivers and partners to help loved ones using Delay the Disease exercises at home on a daily basis. Delay the Disease is a wellness program that empowers patients, puts them back in control, and offers hope and optimism in the face of a progressive neurologic diagnosis.

Delay the Disease was exactly what Carol was hoping to find through her research. In 2010, she flew to Columbus, Ohio, where she participated in a 2-day program and received certification to train those afflicted with Parkinson’s using the Delay the Disease program. She learned about the signs and symptoms, clinical progression and current research and assessment tools with Parkinson’s patients. Without any advertising, word of mouth spread at the Y, and she began the 12-week pilot program with 19 people. They pre-tested people’s movements, and tested them again after completion. The exercises focused on balance, agility and mobility, and generated significant results. At the onset of the program, one male participant could not rise out of a seat without assistance. Well over six feet, the task was difficult even with his wife’s help. After the pilot program ended, he completed 7 unassisted rises from a seated position in 30 seconds. Similar gains were made with other people’s balance and agility.

More importantly, a community developed at the Y for Parkinson’s patients to exercise, and commiserate. Working together as a group had the effect of disarming the isolation normally felt by Parkinson’s sufferers, since the entire group had symptoms such as shaky hands and difficulty rising. This allowed the group to exercise and motivate each other and maintain their dignity. Eventually, Carol trained several trainers and the program spread to four additional YMCA’s as well as Valley Hospital in Northern New Jersey. The program was so effective that every Occupational and Physical Therapist working at Valley Hospital was trained using the Delay the Disease program to help Parkinson’s patients in the hospital. When those therapists weren’t at the hospital, they volunteered with Parkinson’s patients at the Y.

While a Parkinson’s diagnosis will affect roughly 60,000 Americans a year, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, that does not necessarily mean those patients should cease an active lifestyle. Exercise is shown to reduce effects of the disorder, and research continues in hopes of finding a cure. If you are interested in learning more about Delay the Disease and its efforts, go to http://www.delaythedisease.com.

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Bibs, shorts and apps. Bike stuff.

As of May 19, I have ridden a total of 125 outdoor training miles in preparation for Ride the Rockies next month. Abysmal spring weather has dampened what is generally the time for accumulating base miles. However, I’ve been in this situation before, and because I’ll be in Denver next week for my pre-RtR Colorado Camp with my friend Sue, I know I’ll pick up more miles. I’m not going to put a number as to how many, I just hope the weather allows us to ride.

In the spirit of my pre-RtR days, I bought some new stuff because I haven’t purchased bike gear in years and more importantly, if I’m on the saddle and climbing, comfort is a must.

One thing about Ride the Rockies is, whatever you begin the day wearing, you will strip off by the end. So I highly recommend a handy little app called, What To Wear Cycling. Pretty obvious, but it uses GPS so you get your weather conditions. Yesterday morning, I checked it and reluctantly pulled out the leg warmers and full finger gloves. Day 2 of RtR is Grand Mesa, and I vividly remember starting with gloves, leg and ear warmers and jackets, peeling stuff off as we climbed and quickly redressing at the summit which was around 30 degrees. It was strange as I descended in mid-June and immediately headed for hot tea at the food station.

I also bought new bike shorts. I like Pactimo and bought several of the same pair for my 2012 ride. I still wear them, but this time I tried bib shorts. I see so many women, particularly triathlon women wearing them, so I figured I’d give them a shot. They are very comfortable and a little more streamlined then shorts. I like the almost girdle or Spanx compression too. However, I do not get how they can be worn on long distance rides. Seriously. Guys have the advantage here. I know I will not want to take off my shirt and nearly get naked in a tiny porta-potty each time I have to pee. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’re making the trip, but I did get new Pactimo shorts which I’m packing. Ladies, do you wear bib shorts when riding long distances?

The last thing I got was a new Gore Bike Wear Women’s Cycling jacket. I bought my first Gore jacket in 2004 and I still wear it today. It is by far the most durable, convenient and practical piece of clothing I own. It has an inside back pocket and strap so I can stuff it up into itself and wear it as a belt. It also has zippered sleeves which is tremendously helpful when riding long distance. I searched all winter for an updated version but sadly, couldn’t find it. Does Gore want us to wear more of their clothing? What I bought is useful in wind and rain, but it doesn’t provide any the features as my original. It doesn’t even have pockets! What’s the point of a CYCLING jacket if you can’t put your full-finger gloves away when the temps warm up?

I’ll probably wear it in case it rains at Red Rocks when we see The Decemberists.

My new winter toy. A review of the TdF pro-form spin bike

Chicago barely has any snow and temperatures don’t seem to be heading sub zero anytime soon, but, it is nonetheless “off season” for cycling enthusiasts. I wistfully sigh reading people’s cycling reports and viewing pictures of warm sun and bike friendly scenery as we have an abundance of grey sky and hibernating landscape. And did I mention? I hate indoor riding.

After years of spinning and compu-training, a friend suggested I try her Tour de France Proform indoor spin bike. I hesitated. Firstly, I didn’t want to support any product Lance Armstrong touted and secondly, how would this spin bike be different from spin classes? I guess Mr. Armstrong isn’t affiliated with pro-form any longer if he ever was, and this was no ordinary spin bike. So here’s a review of the 2012 TdF Pro-form bike for those looking for an inside alternative designed to push you through the winter blahs.

I’m not going to lie for $1495.00, it’s not a health club industrial strength piece of of equipment. I turned the bike around in my basement and somehow broke the pedal mechanism and required a warranty covered service call. Because it’s motor operated, the components are protected leaving me to wait for a service call. The flywheel is in the back and the resistance is electronically powered rather than manually activated with the knob the user turns. The bike isn’t built for the abuse health club equipment typically takes, so you need to be careful. I recommend buying an extended warranty because just by using it it’s going to require some kind of maintenance. The motor is in the back and I placed a towel over it to absorb any sweat that may fall. This was my friend’s suggestion since she shorted the motor from sweating into it. A towel over the back solved this.

My last criticism has yet to be resolved. The bike comes with a free year subscription to ifit.com. This allows you to globally access maps and ride other routes aside from the pre-progammed TdF stages. You can custom routes and ride “outdoors” anywhere in the world. It also tracks your miles, calories, time, etc. Sounds cool right? I mapped out one of my typical routes to maintain my legs all winter. Sadly, I have been unable to access ifit.com since I got it. This has been very frustrating. I replaced my home’s modem to a high speed access one and spent hours talking to technical support. I just received a new console for the bike on Friday and am waiting for a service guy to come out and replace it. Maybe I just have bad luck, or maybe I just got a lemon. I don’t know. If this problem is common, they should really reconsider using that aspect to promote the features of the bike, because it just doesn’t work. That being said, as soon as the counsel is replaced, I’ll let you know what happens!

Now that my frustrations have been purged, let’s talk about the good stuff! The bike contains 22 preprogrammed stage rides used from the tour at some point. They vary from 35 minutes to about an hour. I like to combine stages so I ride for an hour at least. Lately, I haven’t had much time to work out, so even if I only have 30-45 minutes, I can get a good ride in that time. The rides are climbs and descents; no time trials. The bike tilts forwards and backwards as this happens which is kind of bizarre and probably unnecessary to the workout, but attempts to mimic the experience of a ride. The grades max out at 20% up and down, but at this point, the highest grade I’ve tackled is 12% and that’s plenty. If I were doing Ride the Rockies again this summer (I’m undecided at the moment), this is a great way to work on climbing. I suppose I could achieve something close to this in a group setting, but I like doing this in my own time and space. Sure I could change gears and inclines, but if your goal is to improve, I find leaving it on the factory set incline and pop the gears up a bit, it’s quite challenging.

The console pad tracks your power (watts), calories, rpm, heart rate zones, include, gear and speed. Even if I bought a compu-trainer with a power tap, this bike is cheaper because my husband can also use it to his preferences. If we both bought power taps, etc., it would’ve been well over $2,000, a hefty chunk of change. Since I am a numbers geek regarding training, I like to see all the ways I can measure myself and keep myself honest.

The Tour de France stages are really fun. The climbs are challenging and there are many routes to choose. I bump up the gears on the downhills otherwise, there’s not much benefit other than spinning at a higher rpm. The amount of uphills outweight the down, so you’re forced to work.

Again, I would like to use my own maps and work outs to do some threshold training which I haven’t done yet this winter. I’m hoping by the end of January, all the components will work and I can report back happy.