Exercise is Medicine
Some of you may know, or at least may have met my mom, Toni. She always has a smile and is one of the strongest and most selfless people I know. She raised my brother, who has special needs, and myself with much love and never ending patience. She has always eaten well, exercised and taken great care of herself, but just when she should be enjoying her "retirement" years, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, your face may show little or no expression, or your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.
Exercise is absolutely critical for people battling this disease! Various studies in the 1980s and 1990s supported the notion that rigorous exercise, emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, and rhythm, could favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and activities of daily living. More recent studies, most notably at Cleveland Clinic, focus on the concept of intense “forced” exercise, and have begun to suggest that certain kinds of exercise may be neuro-protective, i.e., actually slowing disease progression.
My mom has been participating in CrossFit classes for a number of years (even before she was diagnosed) and continues to enjoy the social, physical and cognitive benefits they provide. Another outstanding organization with the mission to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to fight back, is Rock Steady Boxing.
At this time, there is no cure for Parkinson's but the symptoms can be managed through medication and exercise. If you, or somebody you know, has been diagnosed with this disease please check out your local CrossFit affiliate or locate a gym that provides Rock Steady Boxing classes in your area. Be like Toni...take action, and fight back against Parkinson's!