“Research shows the need for individuals to continue an exercise program to maintain the benefits received during therapy and to achieve further progress. Few factors contribute as much to successful aging as having a physically active lifestyle.” www.gordon.edu/balance
EXERCISE AND MOVEMENT PROGRAMS
We focus on creating exercise goals that improve balance and stability, endurance and agility, cognitive awareness, and strength training by ability levels.
Participants “compete” against their Parkinson’s symptoms similarly to an athlete in training. They challenge themselves and one another to consistently increase their coordination, cognitive abilities, and mobility goals through:
- hand weights
- Parkinson’s dance and yoga instruction
- resistance bands
- limb stretches
- rhythm walking
- chair exercises
- proper posture and body alignment
Along with integrating elements from the above list, blending dance and inventive movements engages the body and mind and provides a unique method for practicing the importance of stretching, balancing, breathing and releasing tensions. Click here to read about the extensive specialized training that enables our instructors to incorporate these and additional elements into their weekly teaching styles.
“Not all facets of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s are negative. For myself, I find that I have new friends and relationships that have great importance. I see other members challenging themselves as they stave off the effects of PD, showing great fortitude. …Getting out of one’s comfort zone has given me a great gift of belonging.” – Mark
“I have learned through attending Parkinson’s Fitness classes that some of the nicest people also have Parkinson’s, many who I now call friends! The patience and encouragement of my instructors helps me get up and out every day! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!” – Gayle
“The programs offered not only are of great help with balance and strength to fight the effects of Parkinson’s but, equally important, it offers friendship and understanding. We are not alone in the fight!” – Charlie
“Get creative and try to use your Parkinson’s, rather than be limited by it.”
Rachel Dolhun, MD, Staff Movement Disorder Specialist at the Michael J. Fox Foundation
“He who sings frightens away his ills.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of “Don Quixote”. Music is a powerful connection with the brain and helps initiate and improve flexibility, balance, cognition and gait. Class members participated in our initial choral program with instructor Emily (Interrante) Prestigiovanni from Gloucester, MA, followed by an 8-week series with Stian Berg Hansen and Caitlin Hyatt from MedRhythms Neurological Music Therapy of Boston. The participants had fun singing together and exploring how music affects both the brain and body. They also learned a few basic guides for improving their communication abilities by practicing voice projection, breath control, swallowing and speech exercises, and facial muscle relaxation to lessen the “masking” appearance associated with Parkinson’s. We continue to incorporate music during our regular weekly exercise classes, where we sing, sway, stretch, march and dance!
“Playing music actually increases serotonin and dopamine production in the brain, which through Parkinson’s decreases with the progression of the disease. Specifically with drumming, there’s a rhythm and a beat to it, so there’s an anticipation that our brains connect with.” – attributed to Bill Dluhosh, Music Therapist at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington. We have offered two different forms of therapeutic drumming programs under the leadership of separate board-certified music therapy instructors – Lauren Caso from Wakefield, MA and then Stian Berg Hansen from MedRhythms Neurological Music Therapy of Boston. As a carry-over drumming activity into our regular exercise classes, we often incorporate combining step movements, while simultaneously beating out rhythms using 12-inch dowels as drumsticks!
“Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and color, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.” – Winston Churchill. Before the COVID-19 pandemic closed our in-person programs, many members enjoyed an acrylic painting workshop in March led by local well-known artist, Elaine Caliri Daly (Parkinson’s Fitness instructor Dianna Daly’s mother!). Those who attended enjoyed camaraderie, practiced focused concentration, and experienced a healthy sense of accomplishment and pride in their works of art!
It is our belief that one of the best tools for living well with Parkinson’s is staying focused on gaining as much education as possible for good self-care. We host annual symposiums where a variety of speakers provide helpful guides for creating resilient life-management foundations for living, strong, creative, enjoyable, and safe lifestyles, despite difficult Parkinson’s challenges.