October : Women’s Fitness, Exercise Benefits

(Contributed by Guest Poster, Sandy.  Thanks to her for filling in while  I took care of personal matters.)

For those of you who couldn’t be at our October 7th meeting, we missed you! A wonderful speaker, Joy McLaughlin, a PT at INOVA Fair Oaks hospital gave a talk on exercise for women with PD. She started by giving us general information about ways women with PD differ from men with PD, for instance drugs used to treat PD affect women differently due to exposure to higher doses related to lower body mass. Joy also discussed estrogen’s neuroprotection for dopamine activity.
The benefits of exercise in general are many. It improves mental health and ability to do daily activities, decreases stress and promotes wellbeing and confidence. Exercise also boosts brainpower, prevents cognitive decline and increases creativity for two hours after exercising. It also reduces some health risks. Sounds good to me!
Joy told us that for people with PD exercise is neuroprotective and can improve gait, balance, tremor, posture flexibility, strength and coordination. It may have an effect on disease progression because of neuroplasticity. Joy told us that intensity, complexity, repetition, salience (practicing rewarding tasks) and specificity (work on areas of deficit) matter when it comes to exercising.
So how do we choose an exercise program? Good question. Joy recommends that we find something meaningful to us that we enjoy and will likely stick with. Our exercise should have a moderate aerobic component (you are not out of breath and can talk, but not sing while exercising). We should target our problem areas, be they posture, balance, etc. She gave many examples. She also talked about “microwave” exercises, specific balance or flexibility exercises that take only a few minutes.
Joy gave us several handouts that go over this information in more depth and show some simple exercises that are helpful for people with PD, and she gave out flyers for INOVA programs available for people with PD. I have all the handouts and would be willing to make copies for anyone in the group who wants them.
At the one-year anniversary of the Women with PD support group, I’d like to give special recognition and thanks to Lu for starting this group and holding it together. She has gotten us great speakers and we have a lovely, safe and private place to meet thanks to her efforts. Lu, you are mega wonderful and you have our heartfelt appreciation.
I extend, on behalf of the group, our caring and condolences to you. We are so sorry for the loss of your mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of sadness.

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