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Five ways FUN can combat Parkinson’s Disease

The moment of a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis can feel like a storm has descended. The journey ahead, filled with doctors’ appointments, discussions, and choices, can seem overwhelming. It's a challenging time filled with uncertainty, anger, sadness, and anxiety. In short – it sucks!

What is Parkinson Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system. Symptoms start slowly. Initially it may be a noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but there may alos be stiffness or slowing of movement. Symptoms often begin on one side of the body and usually remain worse on that side, even after both sides are affected.

In Parkinson's disease, certain nerve cells called neurons in the brain gradually break down. Many of the symptoms of Parkinson's are due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in your brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes irregular brain activity, leading to problems with movement and other symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Risk factors for Parkinson's disease include:

  • Age. Young adults rarely experience Parkinson's disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older.

  • Heredity. Having a close relative with Parkinson's disease increases the chances that you'll develop the disease. However, your risks are still small unless you have many relatives in your family with Parkinson's disease.

  • Sex. Men are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than are women.

  • Exposure to toxins. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may slightly increase your risk of Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's symptoms may include:

  • Tremor. Rhythmic shaking, called tremor, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth. This is known as a pill-rolling tremor. Your hand may tremble when it's at rest. The shaking may decrease when you are performing tasks.

  • Slowed movement, known as bradykinesia. Over time, Parkinson's disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk. It may be difficult to get out of a chair. You may drag or shuffle your feet as you try to walk.

  • Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.

  • Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped. Or you may fall or have balance problems as a result of Parkinson's disease.

  • Loss of automatic movements. You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.

  • Speech changes. You may speak softly or quickly, slur, or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual speech patterns.

  • Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.

Next Steps

So, what should you do after you have followed the main medical advice for Parkinson's Disease? The next step is to find other ways to improve your health. Education, support, wellness, exercise, and nutrition rank high on this list.

Movement is fuel for both the body and mind. It becomes especially significant for those navigating Parkinson's Disease. Regular exercise helps slow down Parkinson's symptoms. It eases pain and stiffness in the shoulders, hips, and back. Exercise can improve other non-movement related symptoms. So, what types of movement are most beneficial? Excellent question! The key is to find a physical activity program tailored to your personal goals and interests. It's important to choose exercises that are fun and make you feel good. Staying active is not only about managing symptoms, but about joy and satisfaction.

Maddy’s Five Fun Ways to use Joy and Fulfillment in your Parkinson’s Journey

1.     Balance – Our goal is to ensure you maintain solid balance and reduce your risk of taking a tumble. But here's the thing: balance isn't only about mastering the art of standing on one leg. It's about embracing a mix of challenges that energize both your mind and body. And let's be honest, that sounds pretty close to our idea of fun, right?

2.     Walking – Parkinson's can feel like your body has a mind of its own. Finding inventive ways to keep your legs moving is crucial, and guess what? Science backs me up on this. When we mix fun and creativity in, the benefits skyrocket. Think obstacle courses – and yes, you heard that right.

3.     Resistance Training – Exercising with your body weight and lifting weights makes you stronger. Don't worry; we're not talking about transforming you into a gym fanatic. There are many ways to incorporate these exercises that fit your style and pace.

4.     Getting your heart rate up - There are plenty of enjoyable ways to get your heart pumping faster. Everyone has their own favourite activities. You might feel like you've lost what you love, but we're here to find what makes your heart beat with joy.

5.     Mind-Body-Brain-Spirit Connection: The mention of "brain" here is deliberate. I'm all for weaving cognitive challenges into our physical routines. Picture this: you are improving your balance while giving your brain a workout. At the same time, you are having fun - fortifying your body and spirit sharing laughter and joy. And throughout this staying present and mindful.

The Takeaway

For many people, moving with purpose leads to big boosts in confidence. It also gives you a new feeling of control over you’re Parkinson's. It puts you in the driver's seat of your experience.

Why Choose Balance Health?

As you've discovered, it’s all about balance! My name is Maddy Thorpe, and I'm an Osteopath here at Balance Health. Sure, I've got the university degree and all the technical knowledge. But do you want to know the secret sauce to my expertise?

I've undergone two brain surgeries and countless hours of neurological rehabilitation.

Hold up, no need to worry! Most of my brain still between my ears. Fun fact: a tiny part of it is chilling in a fridge somewhere in America. I suppose this makes me one of the few folks who can claim to be in two places at once.

Why this big fuss about fun?

Learning and moving should bring joy. My journey began at 12 years old - when I first started running martial arts classes. It was in these classes that I designed my first obstacle course. Fast forward to today - and not much has changed. I'm still crafting courses, still sparking excitement.

What are you waiting for? 

Step into our world at Balance Health. Seize control and reclaim your life!

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