Getting (Back) on Track: 5 Strategies to Move Forward in a Changing World
If you’re reading the DAPS newsletter, you certainly know that exercise is medicine. You also know that exercise is even more important for people with Parkinson disease; however, the events of the last couple of years have made it hard for so many to consistently manage their symptoms with exercise. If you think you’ve lost a step (or two) during this pandemic, you’re not alone. Here are a few ideas to get back on track, or to stay on track:
1. Put a time on your calendar – and stick to it!
When picking an ideal time, consider: • Weather — If you are an outdoor enthusiast, it’s easy to let weather “rain on your parade.” If weather doesn’t cooperate, plan a few indoor back-up activities such as: Zoom classes, exercise videos, YouTube workouts, treadmill, stationary bike, or even walking your hallways at home for a set amount of time. Failure to plan is planning to fail. • Medication timing — Exercising during “off-periods” can be a challenge. Plan workouts for optimal “on-periods” with your medication. If needed, speak with your doctor for guidance on schedule adjustment. • Managing Energy Levels — If you experience severe fatigue after exercise, be sure to select a time when you have an open schedule after your session. If there is no other option, give yourself permission to take extra breaks. Consistency has far greater benefits than a single record-setting performance an exercise session could offer.
2. Involve another person or a group of people. Groups (online or in-person) are crucial for: • Accountability & Consistency — It’s so easy to make excuses or to quit despite knowing the benefits of consistent exercise. A workout buddy or group makes it easier to help everyone involved fight the urge to skip sessions and makes it easier to come back after taking time away.
• Being each other’s Cheerleaders — No one wants to miss out on a good time with their friends. Cheering on someone for a job well done means new friendships and more fun!
• Fostering a sense of community — Connection is key. If you’re online, try asking the meeting organizer to set up time before or after class for people to chat. At in-person classes, see if someone wants to get a coffee, grab a snack, or try another workout with you. You’ll try new things, develop new friendships, and will likely find some other resources to live well and fight back against Parkinson disease.
3. Don’t wait for the perfect plan. Get moving and modify as needed. 4. Start realistically — In the excitement of getting started, it can be easy to get swept away with enthusiasm. Stay focused. You can still do many of the things you used to, provided you ease your way into it. Over-doing is usually the easiest way to “sideline” a great comeback effort. It’s better to start lighter, assess how it went, and gradually increase the intensity or time on task. 5. Set goals — Track your progress (with meaningful measurements), and reward yourself for a job well done.
Hopefully this helps you create an unshakeable foundation to exercise and take charge of your quality of life! After trying this, if you still need help or it seems that you’ve lost “a little more than a step or two,” consider contacting a physical therapist for some individualized attention based on your needs.
About the Author:
Dr. Michael Braitsch PT, DPT is an LSVT BIG-certified physical therapist who specializes in treating patients with Parkinson Disease. In partnership with UTSW, he studies Parkinson Disease in research efforts for the Parkinson Foundation. In addition to treating patients and running groups at Tribe Wellness, he serves on the DAPS Medical Advisory Board. More info at www.tribewellness.org.