Saturday, August 23, 2008

Exercise for Parkinson's

Over the eight years that I've had Parkinson's disease I've learned lots of things but none more important than the need to get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise 6 or 7 days a week

Studies at the National Institute on Aging show that overeating and lack of exercise are not only risk factors for diabetics, cancer and cardiovascular problems,they also increase the risk of neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's Disease and stroke.

Neurotrophic Factors

Other studies show that physical and mental activity can also increase neuroropic factor production. Neurotrophic Factors are small proteins in the brain that signal neuron cells to survive or grow. This means that dietary restriction and physical and mental exercise can reduce or slow neurocell death. Available data suggests that dietary restriction and physical and mental exercise may reduce the occurence and severity of neurodegenerative disease.

Physical Exercise

Before starting an exercise program check with you doctor about the exercises you can do, how long to do them and how hard they should be. You should start your exercise routine with warm ups and conclude with cooling down. I know you hear that all the time and you can skip that step if you enjoy muscle cramps. Exercise probably isn't going to keep your Parkinson's from progressing but it will help your balance and flexibility and it can help to reduce pain.

Any kind of exercise done regularly will help but make sure to include ones that can aid in improving your balance and that require you to move your limbs to their full range of motion.

You can also start a new hobbies which involve physical activity. Perhaps you'd like walking, gardening or swimming. I've done Yoga with my sister-in-law and am waiting for the next local Tai Chi class to begin.

What you don't want to do is to let those muscles atrophy while you dispair over having Parkinson's.

Flexing Exercise

Take a look in the mirror and say a few words to yourself. Loss of facial muscle tone
can affect your your ability to communicate fully as well as affecting the way you are perceived. So keep those facial muscles exercised too.

There are plenty of stretching and flexing exercises which you can find in the form of facial isometrics. You can also try singing or reading aloud. For fun and exercise, go back to the mirror and make faces at yourself. You'll be able to see and/or feel which muscles need to be worked. Continue to make those funny faces but hold each pose for at least 5-10 seconds.

And don't forget that simply chewing your food energetically will not only help your digestion but also exercise muscle groups of your face and neck. As an added benefit, spending more time chewing may decrease your caloric intake. and reduce swallowing difficulties.

Mental Exercise

Try doing a cross word puzzle each day or sudoko if you are a numbers person or even computer gaming. Don't be afraid to open yourself to new experiences, to make new friends. Even if you can't get out of the house that easily, you can expand your world of interest.
Checkout some brain exercises at:

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