A few years ago, my best friend of over 50 years was diagnosed with Parkinson's. This shocking news motivated me to find out more about the condition and what I might be able to do, as a Personal Trainer, to help.
People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine in their brain because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. It can affect people of all age groups and around 145,000 people live with Parkinson’s in the UK. It's the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. The 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's are a tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness).
Last year I undertook some training with PD Warrior, a global organisation established in Australia by neurophysiotherapist Melissa McConaghy, who have developed a range of exercises tailored to people with Parkinson's and specifically addressing challenges they have with dynamic movement and range of movement through their joints. Towards the end of 2022, armed with this training, I also hooked up with two neurophysiotherapists in my area, and since November I've been running a weekly Zoom class for a combination of their patients and other members of a local Parkinson's group. It's a really active and fun class with a mix of strength and conditioning exercise plus cardio work to music to help them get 'puffy'.
Feedback has been really positive, and it's amazing how beneficial exercise can be to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of people with Parkinson's. It's encouraged me to go out and find more people locally I can work with who have been diagnosed with the condition and subsequently I've recruited new members to group classes and one-to-one clients with the condition.
The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's is increasing. It's also clear that many aren't aware of the help and support that's out there around the country. If you know people with the condition who are looking for more support and who might want to join a group to exercise in the company of others with the condition, direct them to the Parkinson's UK website https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/living-parkinsons where they can find more information about regional groups, activities and some of the support available.