Tuesday, October 3, 2017


We all have different challenges to overcome when we try to improve our mobility and quality of life.  Overcoming these challenges is especially hard when motivation is low.  I am going to use this post to assemble some inspirational materials that I have found appealing.  I hope that these materials help your progress.  Exercise will only work if you do it.

Health is the complete state of mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  W.H.O. definition of health.

Be well.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sleep, Learning, Brain Waste and PD

Sleep matters whether or not you have Parkinson's Disease.

ONE:  If you were to practice a complex motor skill like a golf swing (Scott D!), your ability to learn and retain that skill is enhanced considerably by sleep.  That is known.  And the research not only supports the right amount of sleep but also the importance of sleep quality (time in key stages).  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2527676/).  Further, the importance of sleep for making a new skill relatively permanent is also true for non-motor tasks (for example: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15979164). 

TWO:  The knowledge and theories about sleep are fascinating but outside my area of expertise.  I want you to watch this TED talk and consider for yourself how this understanding of sleep relates to helping your brain while it struggles with Parkinson's disease.  Sleep is critical for brain health and this does not change with PD. TED Talk: Jeff Iliff: One more reason to get a good night's sleep.

Have a restful night.  --ck

Thursday, April 20, 2017


This post is about two students from the College of Health Sciences at UD and their friends who are interested in learning how to live in a better way.  The students discovered a documentary called A Small Good Thing and hosted a screening in my home with other interested students and my family. The evening was rich with conversation that was connected to some of the many interesting themes in the documentary.  There were ten of us and we enjoyed homemade hummus with carrots, fruit and a dutch oven campfire recipe that I have been working on.

I have now watched this documentary five times and each viewing reveals something new and meaningful.  Even more interesting is hearing how other people relate to the documentary.  What do they find most interesting? What alternate views do they have?  How do their life histories and values shape the way that they wish to live?

What is the documentary about?  Below is some text from their website.

"For the longest time, we’ve been living as though the more we have—the more money, the more goods, the more territory—the happier we’ll be. Surprisingly, over the last fifty years as our standard of living has improved, our happiness has not. A Small Good Thing examines how our ideal of the American Dream has come to the end of its promise. The film tells the stories of people moving away from a philosophy of ‘more is better’ toward a more holistic conception of happiness — one based on a close connection to their bodies and health, to the natural world, and to the greater good."

What is the purpose of the screenings?  To think, to make connections and to grow.

The more I listen to the students the better I understand the value of this activity.  First, I think that this documentary is a great conversation starter.  It shows different options about how to approach life.  It brings people together and gets them to think.  Maybe some of us will begin to challenge some basic assumptions for the betterment of self, community and planet.

It was also suggested that this film does not force an agenda on the viewer.  Rather, it points the viewer towards different ways of thinking.  While experts speak to the audience about environmental and social problems, the film does not seem to blame or criticize.  It has a positive orientation.  There was an unstated theme of mindfulness in the film and mindfulness became apparent in the conversations we enjoyed with each other - face to face  - without judgement or expectations.  My wife and I are grateful to Suzanne, Shannon, Andrew, Tom and Daniela.

What's next?  Another screening: Wednesday May 3, 5:00-8:00 pm Willard Hall 007.  

See the Facebook Event Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1648426525467133/

This is an educational project in which students are learning about community film screenings as they go.  Last night, they piloted the screening with a small group and gained much from listening to the reactions of new viewers.  Next, they will host a larger event on the UD Campus and see what emerges.  The goal is to attract viewers from all the different Colleges at UD, especially the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  The outcomes of the screenings depend on the audience and last night made us hopeful for the future. Also, the group that attended the first screening expressed interest in staying connected.  I think the makers of Small Good Thing would be really proud to hear this.

Note: This project originated in an experimental course The Soft American. In which students worked on redefining fitness to include abilities that allow us to live in harmony with other people and in harmony with the planet.


The Dutch oven recipe: several potatoes - chopped, a few good sized onions - chopped, many brussel sprouts cut in half.  The fire was hot and the dish cooked in about 35 minutes. Vegetable oil kept the veges from sticking to the bottom and the dish was seasoned with Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. Next time - I will not cut the potatoes so small because they cook the fastest.

What are these eggs about? Local farming was a main topic in the documentary and I coincidentally had eggs for breakfast the morning of the screening (this is my breakfast pic).  We buy local eggs from a friend Diane who has a small farm.  I had one local egg and one egg from the supermarket that was certified organic and cage free.  I was amazed by the difference in the color and flavor of the yolk. The local egg was still many times better than the best we could buy at the big store.  One of the students in our group explained why.

One of last night's viewers works with a farm in PA (?) that uses the power of draft horses (see Sue and Cindy to the right). The motivation for working in this way, rather than using tractors, seemed to be that it is consistent with the natural rhythms of nature. (Andrew explained it better).  The links below are a continuation of this exploration.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

PaddleBoard & Balance Training

This isn't a scientific post.  I just like this story from SUPM (Stand Up Paddle Mag - UK) about Stan W., who found ways to keep doing the things he enjoys despite having Parkinson's disease.  Perseverance and balance training are visible in this story.  Not all of your exercise needs to be done in the Gym!  See the full story at this link and read the material below to learn more about the progressive overload principle in balance training.

Progressive Overload is a training principle in which you progressively increase the challenges to your body over time.  Doing the same exercise routine every day is good for maintenance but not effective for improvement.

Progressive overload in strength training easy to understand.  To increase the demands on your nervous system and muscles, you lift heavier weights.  What about Balance Training?  To overload the system you would do exercises that are progressively less stable (harder to balance).  For example, once you can sand on one leg for a good amount of time, try doing your upper body exercises (like arm curls) while standing on one leg.  Start with lighter weights.  Or try bouncing a tennis ball against a wall and catching it while standing on one leg.  The idea is that to improve your balance, you need to do increasingly complex activities.

Another training principle is Individual Differences.  Not all of you will be able to do these exercises.  Some might even look fairly advanced for people with Parkinson's disease but this is not always the case.  In our research program, we work with several people who could perform some of these advanced exercises or progressively train their bodies for these new abilities.  They are within reach for many people but you have to know yourself, your limitations and a safe starting point.

Look at some of the exercises below and see different levels of challenge.

This picture shows a progression of seated exercises.  This will strengthen leg muscles and improve postural control and balance.

Here is the Tennis Ball example.
Now the ball is being thrown to the side (laterally) and the ball is a weighted medicine ball.  The increased weight makes the task more challenging.

Next Step: Standing on an unstable surface.  This device is called a Bosu Balance Trainer or Bosu Ball.  There are other brands but Bosu is probably the most widely known.

This is the "I wish" picture.  Maybe you can do this.  I cannot...  Yet.

Good luck with your training!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Philly Rabbit Run: 5K and 1 Mile Walk
April 15, 2017
Join Our Team: BlueHen-SpeedGeezer

First, I wish to disclose a conflict of interest in promoting this event.  Shake It Off, Inc. has been a generous supporter of our research program in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware.  With your support and their support, we have been able to grow our research program on the topic of exercise prescription for people with Parkinson’s disease.  Your donations support personnel for our experimental exercise programs, laboratory equipment, and student travel to conferences where we present our work.  We have published two studies on the benefits of our ‘SpeedGeezer’ program in which we use high speed bicycling intervals to re-train the brain for faster physical function. The first study supports the safety of the exercise program and we found that just one session of exercise can improve two measures of mobility.  The second study (accepted and In press) demonstrated that the six-week SpeedGeezer program can improve many measures of mobility by about 15%.

Help us do more!  We typically have eight people participating in our exercise programs at any time and we want to be able to do more.  We want to be able to train more people and test more symptoms. So, I would love the amazing people at Shake It Off, Inc. to see a strong UD presence at the Philly Rabbit Run as racers, walkers, volunteers and donors.  I have created a team called: BlueHens-SpeedGeezer.  Please race or donate with us!

The Race Website is here:  http://www.phillyrabbitrun.com/ and you will be able to find all the necessary information about registering to run or walk (Join our team: BlueHens-SpeedGeezer) and/or how to donate to the cause.   Here is a shortcut directly to team BlueHens-SpeedGeezer for donation: https://runsignup.com/Race/40441/Donate/aAstckGjAZq2MvDx