Coping with Parkinson’s can be a trying and testing time, you will hopefully have seen a physiotherapist and be under their care. As personal trainers for Parkinson’s patients, we understand how important this is.
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects the brain. It causes problems like shaking and stiffness that get worse over time. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are shaking (tremors), slow movements and stiffness. Treatments for Parkinson’s disease include therapies to help with movement problems, medicines and sometimes brain surgery. Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain. It’s not clear exactly why this happens. We are going to show you just how important exercise can be for coping with Parkinsons’.
How does Parkinson’s disease affect movement?
Parkinson’s disease is a type of central nervous system disorder that affects your movement, causing symptoms such as tremors, slowness, stiffness, and more. These involuntary movements begin, in part, in the brain, where the production of dopamine (the neurotransmitter that controls movement) is impaired.
Movement and mobility issues following PD
One of the biggest, most noticeable side effects of Parkinson’s disease is movement issues. PD can result in problems with coordination and balance. Another side effect of having PD can be extreme tiredness (fatigue) and difficulty sleeping, making sufferers even more tired.
PD may bring with it a variety of symptoms that are uncommon in the early stages, such as problems with walking (gait abnormalities) and poor balance (postural instability).
If you are working with both a physio and a personal trainer then you are hitting your rehabilitation from every angle.
Physiotherapy will be a regular occurrence for any Parkinsons’ patient and will often involve several sessions a week, focusing on areas such as exercises to improve your muscle strength and overcome any walking difficulties. A personal trainer will ensure that any exercises you do are recommended by your physio and always work within the recommended guidelines to ensure your safety.
As your condition improves, your physiotherapist and personal trainers for Parkinson’s will look at adding in more demanding long-term goals to keep you progressing.
The psychological impacts of PD
Having PD can be a devastating and life-changing event. You can feel a whole host of emotions such as anger, frustration and bewilderment to name but a few. The good news is that exercise can also help you to manage these difficult feelings and emotions. Two of the most common psychological problems that can affect people after a PD diagnosis are:
It can be very common for people to experience intense bouts of crying, feel hopeless and withdraw from social activities. This can be understandable due to the fact that PD affects the brain and you might not have as much mobility and independence as you used to. It is a life-changing event. A personal trainer for Parkinson’s patients can help with safe and effective exercise plans which will help to build confidence and self-esteem and also release those all-important endorphins to make you feel better.
Anxiety – When you have PD, it’s very likely you will experience some anxiety about it, something has happened to you that you have had no control over, and it’s likely you will experience general feelings of fear and anxiety, sometimes with moments of intense, uncontrolled feelings of anxiety (anxiety attacks). Exercise can help to manage these feelings as well as help you feel in control as you work towards a goal.
The benefits of exercise after PD diagnosis
There are numerous benefits to enjoy through adhering to an exercise programme after a PD diagnosis.
Balancing both sides of the body
A personal trainer for Parkinson’s can help to enhance balance and coordination with specific exercises. This is very beneficial in helping to decrease the chances of falls and further complications.
Improving overall strength
Strength training is recommended to reverse muscle atrophy, which typically occurs during the hospital stay and days thereafter. Strength training is also beneficial as strong muscles mean better balance and mobility. As a guideline, resistance exercises should be done 3-5 times a week. 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (of each exercise) should be completed to achieve noticeable results.
Keeping your heart healthy is also essential with PD, regular cv and aerobic activity can help to manage conditions making it very important for health. coordination resulting in greater total body recovery.
Your personal trainer for PD will work with you to create a set of tailored goals to keep you working towards something. This is one of the best things about personal training, you will always have something to work towards. You can build strength back and focus on those weaker muscles and feel confident while you are doing so.
Luckily, the brain is an incredible thing and is capable of rewiring and repairing itself even if its cells are damaged. Brain training is essential and this can also be achieved through exercise and repetition. Think about it like this, the undamaged parts of the brain step in to perform the tasks that the damaged parts were performing. This phenomenon (called neuroplasticity) allows people to regain lost movement and function. The key to neuroplasticity is the consistent performance of repetitive tasks so that the brain can relearn how to perform these tasks through different neural pathways. If your personal trainer is asking you to constantly repeat tasks and gives you homework too, it’s not because they are trying to bore you, it’s because they are essentially trying to rewire your brain.
Improvement in daily activities
You can expect to regain some of your independence as your brain adapts and rewires some of its functions. Repetition and perseverance is the key here.
Personal trainers for Parkinson’s can help sufferers to improve their quality of life through healthy lifestyle changes and engagement in restorative activities that a personal trainer and physiotherapist can provide. Whether implementing big changes or small ones, the key to meaningful functional management is engaging in your routine changes consistently, don’t give up and building your self-confidence back up.