Robins Parkinson’s story part 6 – the benefits of exercise
The answer to my cryptic clue from my last blog is ‘The Monkeys’ – possibly not what you were thinking? Not even the right song, you see against all odds, my new found relationship with exercise and Parkinson’s has changed me and for now? Well, ‘I’m a believer’.
What follows is my personal revelation about the effects of increased exercise, Parkinson’s and me.
It’s been a long time, but I hope it’s worth the weight.
I would never have considered myself experienced enough to talk about the benefits of exercise to anyone let alone write a blog on it but here we go.
Long before any contact with Billy and the rest of the crew of Indian Ocean Row 2018 my niece who is a doctor had suggested I should try to bulk up a bit. She explained the apparent correlation between physical fitness and the ability to fight disease and hopefully slow its progress. I like many had started to loose weight and was surprised/horrified to find my weight was around 10 1/2 stone just before Christmas 2016. I had lost somewhere around two stone. I think this was down to lack of appetite, difficulty in eating certain foods and was in part the result of my drugs regime, the disease and possibly my mental health at that point in time.
The first step was to make an appointment with the hospital physiotherapist to see what could be done. After a consultation I was given an exercise program to improve my core strength and some leg and spine exercises to strengthen my weaker leg.
To start on a new exercise regime I was pretty focused on doing my best and started in earnest making it part of my daily routine. I think the physiotherapist was impressed that I was actually doing what I had been told, so we continued with the addition of more exercises. I have to say I was already feeling the benefits of this increased exercise which is why I found it easy to continue and increase routines. I should also mention I hadn’t realised you were supposed to have some rest days in between exercise programs so had to fit in two per week. This can be easier said than done.
It was my physiotherapist who gave me some really useful information with regard to my leg condition (dragging heel). It takes a bit of training, but if I try to land on my heel by pivoting my foot ever so slightly I can walk without dragging it. This does slow me down but it definitely works for me. Which leaves me with the decision whether to walk fast and drag my foot or slow down and enjoy the silence.
So what style of exercises was I given?
I think it’s what you would call free weights. I bought some dumb bells and set to work list of standard exercises including:
- External Abdominal Oblique
Sorry my list was so close to spelling aches I had to use medical terminology, rowing must have had an effect on this muscle.
All told my routine would take 15-20 minutes in the morning depending upon how many repetitions I did for each exercise.
I consider myself fortunate
I have a practical and physical job that I’m still managing full time, for the moment. I know my regime may not be appropriate or a perfect fit for everyone but increased exercise really has reaped benefits for me.
In addition to above I now spend a lot of time sitting on a rowing machine (erg), do plenty of walking and mostly cycle to and from work. You have to work at it but these are the benefits that I believe are down to increased exercise:
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain (very difficult for me)
- Better mental health
- More positive
- Less compulsive behaviours
- Better sleep, increased time asleep, less waking during the night.
- Less/no TV (basically turned off by tv)
- Less cramps, though at first the increased exercise could cause cramps especially calf, hands and feet.
- Better overall fitness
Hopefully you will have similar experiences and benefits if you increase your exercise regime. This really could be the wonder drug for helping in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
To date I can honestly say exercise is the only thing that has truly helped and improved my personal experience of Parkinson’s disease, I have and still question my drugs regime and whether it has had any noticeable/positive effect on me.
So in short, I am a convert and in exercise?
‘Im a believer.’