Friday, February 26, 2016

Q. Why does exercise help Bob's PD?

Because he does it!  The video below shows Bob's legs during one of the high speed bicycling intervals in our SpeedGeezer exercise program. SpeedGeezer is described in this post with training worksheets that you can download, print and use.  Bob overcomes his challenges with PD and does this 30 minute workout 2 times per week.  Listen - when he says '51' he has hit 151 revolutions per minute (RPM).

(See this post about Bob's Comeback.)

An exercise habit or physically active lifestyle is hard to develop and maintain, even for people who do not have the added challenges of Parkinson's disease.  In my research program, we seek the best exercise prescriptions for your health and performance.  But there is a more important issue that often gets in the way of this information becoming useful.  Motivation!

You have to want the benefits of exercise enough to overcome anything that you identify as a reason not to exercise.  And this is a hard thing for me to suggest because I don't have Parkinson's disease and couldn't possibly understand how hard this is.  My perspective might also be different from yours in another meaningful way.  I grew up as a high active and love the feeling I get during and after a good workout.  In fact, when two days pass without a good dose of physical activity, I easily recognize the consequences; physically, mentally and sometimes socially (the three overlapping domains of health).

Below are three links to resources that might help you to get started.  Starting a new exercise program requires more than knowing what exercises to do - it requires you to train your motivation as well.
Exercise only works if you do it so take action now.  Like Wendy above, list reasons why you want to exercise - or why you want to improve your mobility and health.  Then set one really easy goal. Achieve that goal.  Elevate your goal and repeat.  Little by little, grow an exercise habit into your life.  We don't have to re-invent ourselves all at once to make this work.  We just have to keep nudging things in the right direction.  One thing at a time.

Be well.   --ck

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wii Speed Slice: Samurai with PD

The Active Video Game Market has provided many awesome tools for improving your function and fitness. Several games are ideal for fighting Parkinson's disease or age-related slowing (if your partner is a geezer).

I cannot recommend the best game for you without knowing more about you, your symptoms, fitness status and goals but I can explain the features of some of my favorite game options.  Here, I am reviewing a game in the Wii Sports Resort called Speed Slice.

Speed Slice Video: This video shows how to get to the game in Wii and what it looks like.


Fall Risk & Balance Training:  Especially if you have balance impairments, you should make sure that you have created a safe exercise environment.  Remove all tripping hazards from your exercise space and place a stable chair or other piece of furniture nearby so that you can grasp it when needed. You might also consider whether it is best for you to play this game while seated or standing -- or maybe while standing on one leg if you seek Samurai status. Challenging your stability is the way to improve your balance but you need to do so safely.

Shoulder Stability and Getting Carried Away:  I learned this the hard way.  This game is fun and sometimes I get competitive.  The day after I explored this game I had really sore shoulders.  Ease into this game to prevent soreness and injury.

You don't have to walk towards the TV screen to do well:  Some people get so involved that they approach the screen without knowing it.  There are legitimate reasons to attack your television with a sword but this is not one of them.

Why do I recommend this game?  

  1. It is speed based:  This game directly attacks some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and age-related slowing.  It is a tool to improve your a) ability to make fast decisions, b) reaction time, c) movement speed.  These abilities are important in driving a car safely, among other things.
  2. It trains your balance:  You can enjoy this game while sitting or standing and you can creatively modify it to challenge your balance.  The slicing movement requires a coordianteed movement  of your arms and trunk and your whole body needs to be prepared for these fast movements to prevent a fall.  Other ways to train these higher level abilities include boxing, partner dancing, throwing/catching, and exercise with battle ropes and other training aids.

  1. Ease into this game slowly.  Try it briefly on day one and then increase your vigor as long as you don't experience pain or soreness.
  2. Keep track of your scores using the Wii game system or a notebook and pencil.  Keep it simple.
  3. Study the ways of the Samurai and pursue perfection.  Pay attention to a stable foundation and maintain your best posture.  Work on two- handed slices.  Use the abdominal breathing that you learned in Tai Chi classes.
  4. Put Speed Slice on your calendar with recovery days in between at first.  Consider using the game in the morning and see if it awakens your nervous system.
  5. Don't get discouraged - If this game is too challenging for you, continue to seek ideas from your health care providers and fitness professionals.
Find the Scientific Support Here:  Link to PubMed Search