Step- Click, Left- Click, Back- Clap

A welcome new exercise class for people with Parkinson’s has started in Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board. On Friday more than 30 PWP, including me, attended an exercise session run as part of the Neurology Outpatient Physiotherapy Service Early Parkinson’s Programme. They had all taken part in a previous 8 week programme over the past 2 years or so.

The Neuro physios have devised a set of 11 exercises that would be easy to do at home with just some simple equipment. The exercises aim to improve range and scale of movement and flexibility, increase muscle power, improve coordination, challenge balance whilst at the same time challenging the brain by introducing complex movements and encouraging use of the voice by adding in vocalisations.

Rather than focusing on lots of fast repetitions, as in a cardio session, the exercises are intended to be done deliberately, with big movements to the extent of capacity (really reaching and stretching) and with 80% effort. They frequently have 2 second pauses “written in” to encourage this approach. This is where the drop-in regular session really comes in to its own. One can do the exercises at home on ones own, but it’s very easy to slip into doing them with less effort, smaller movements and with less intent. Doing each exercise in a small groups participants are able to encourage each other as well as be spurred on by the facilitators, so the weekly sessions should improve the quality of exercise at the sessions and at home. Partners and family members could also help with the home sessions.

Its not a punishing cardio session, so those who hate the thought of a gym needn’t be frightened of this type of exercise though the hour’s session last Friday certainly raised my heart rate. The increase in flexibility and improvement in posture feels good. Thanks Neurophysio team!

See “Patiently Exercising” for more of my thoughts on exercise.

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