Keep On Moving!
Hello again, or as we say in New Zealand, Kia ora.
I have been remiss with my usual updates. It’s been tough getting back into a routine. What has been especially tough has been forcing myself back into exercising. Nobody likes exercise, but those of us who are forced to endure this thing they call Parkinson’s know more than most that we have more reason to push ourselves. You would think this would spur us on, but it doesn’t always. I’ve never aspired to being a gym bunny, and I’m still awful at religiously working out.
I’ve taken to doing the odd class at the local building of fitness, and yoga most days on a morning. First I’m going to deal with the yoga thing. No at first you might think that doing yoga every morning makes me some kind of Wellness freak. I’m a yogi, I praise the sun and I’m all bendy and lovely. No. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I have an app on my phone, and I use that. It’s set for Hatha Yoga, the explanation from the app explains it’s slower, more varied and has no chaturanga pushups. For the uninitiated, a chaturanga pushup appears to be a torturous slow recline from the odious ‘plank’ position, to then bend your back in an odd way before doing a kind of forearm plank that turn into downward facing dog position. If I can skip those I’ll be happy, thanks. Instead I’m happily working my way through 30 to 45 mins (depending on how I feel) of Hatha yoga. It’s still not easy. Today’s session wanted me to stand on one leg for about four minutes. I’m not sure it’s designed for people as heavy as me. Oh, I mean both the yoga session and the leg.
Having said all that the benefits of the sessions cannot be overstated. I’ve been getting stronger, I can tell. My balance is a little wonky on my left side sometimes, but I think that’s more early morning ‘oh-my-meds-aren’t-working-yet’ than anything else. Before Christmas, while I was patiently sitting at a bedside for three weeks and then worrying about buying and moving house, I all but stopped exercising altogether. I was tired. I was stressed. I was in a bad way. It was evident to those close around me that I wasn’t looking after myself.
In late December I realised enough was enough. I cracked open the app and sneaked off one morning to do yoga.
It really hurt.
My family came sleepily out of their rooms to inquire what all the muttered (and not so muttered) swearing was about?
“Yoga is not designed for overweight people with Parkinson’s”. I replied. And yet I persevered through the 30 minutes. At the end I was a bit sweaty and pongy. But I felt great. A bit shaky, but was that the stress I’d placed on my body or the Parkinson’s?
I didn’t start limping until much later in the day. It really helped my mobility. It’s also given me more confidence in my body to do things, and a desire to match those able-bodied lucky sods that aren’t challenged by their bodies crapping out on them. I have continued with the sessions and thrown in some much-ignored LSVT BIG physio throughout the day and gosh, does it make a difference.
The painful realization that exercise must become part of my daily life is not one that I relish. I tell people I exercise. So many times they reply, “but I don’t like going to the gym / going for a walk / cycle ride” etc. I calmy say “Neither do I. I like eating potato chips, drinking wine and watching TV.”
The difference exercise makes to me is astounding. I’m told by my friends with Parkinson’s that it helps them immeasurably too. If I can offer any advice to people with this terrible affliction, it’s take your meds and exercise more. It doesn’t matter if you can’t get out of your chair, do some chair yoga, or chair stretches and just do what you can. Hopefully in time you’ll find you can do more and more. We can’t reverse the damage to our brains and our lost cells, but we can help teach our bodies they’re still capable of carrying us about, being mobile and independent.
That my friends, is worth the pain.
What do you do to exercise? Tell us in the comments or drop us a line!
Until next time, Kitty.
Kitty Fitton is a motivational speaker, MC and comedian. She is also a full-time blogger and writer. She is mother to four small people and was very cross to discover she had Parkinson’s Disease.
Find out more at her personal site below.
Emma Kyriacou is a real-life ninja. Taking up Karate to help fight her Parkinson’s Disease, she’s co-founder of Good Moves and is passionate about promoting exercise to improve mobility and neuroplasticity. (Is that a word? It should be.)
Find out more at her personal site below.