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Living Well with a Parkinson's Diagnosis


A diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease (PD)can seem overwhelming and scary. There are a lot of unanswered questions and fear of the unknown. While each diagnosis presents differently, there are symptoms, motor, and non-motor, commonly found in PD. Common symptoms include tremors, rigidity, postural instability, freezing of gait, dystonia, and dyskinesia. Non-Motor symptoms include depression and anxiety, fatigue, and sleeping disorders. Research has shown there are different ways to manage PD symptoms and slow the disease's progression. This article will highlight different ways to live well with PD.


Exercise: Exercise is an integral part of any person's health. For PD, exercise is a vital component of managing symptoms. It is essential in maintaining balance, improving movement, maintaining mobility, and promoting better function with daily activities. While all exercise is beneficial, certain types of exercise are most beneficial for PD. Let's dive in. Studies have shown that the most beneficial exercise for PD is forced intensity. The high-intensity movement has been shown to reduce tremors, joint stiffness, muscle rigidity, endurance, and cardiovascular function. Keeping your heart rate between 70 -80% during your high-intensity cycles is essential. So how much exercise is enough? The most current research says 150 minutes/week (2 ½ hours) of forced-intensity exercise. This can be done in as small as 15-20 minute sessions throughout the week or an hour at a time in an exercise class. While exercise can help all levels of PD, starting an exercise program early in the diagnosis is most beneficial. Many additional exercise styles benefit those with a PD, including; flexibility, balance training, and exercise with big, repetitive movements. Wellness 360 provides multiple ways to maximize your workouts, including one on one physical therapy, Rock Steady Boxing, Parkinson's Dance, and Cycle for the Active Adult.


Dietary: Is there a specific diet plan for PD? PD affects every person differently. Dietary plans should be individualized per person. However, some great tips can benefit everyone with PD. Protein consumption can interfere with the effects of the commonly prescribed medication Levodopa. The recommendation is to take medication on an empty stomach or with something containing no protein, like applesauce. Then wait about an hour and eat protein-containing food. Protein can affect your body's absorption of the levodopa medication. An additional tip on dietary modifications is to increase your fiber intake by eating more fruit, vegetables, and beans. Constipation is a common complaint amongst those with the PD diagnosis. Fiber can significantly improve your GI tract and help move things along without difficulties. Drinking plenty of water can also benefit those with constipation. Dehydration can significantly worsen already compromised neurological function. Staying hydrated can promote better digestion and neurological function.

Social Support: The PD diagnosis can stimulate many different emotions along your journey. It is easy to avoid social interactions due to worsening and ever-changing symptoms. Many non-motor symptoms are common for PD: depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, and more. Staying socially active is very important for our mental well-being. Having a core base of people who share your journey, understand your situation, and can support you through the highs and lows of your diagnosis is priceless. There are many ways to build your social network. Join local support groups, group fitness classes, or staying connected to friends and family are great ways to embrace your mental well-being.


Stress Reduction: It is well known that stress has a direct and profound impact on the symptoms that are associated with PD. Stress has been shown to worsen the motor symptoms of PD, including freezing of gait, dyskinesia, and tremors. Finding the right tools to decrease stress levels can benefit the PD diagnosis. Multiple ways to improve your stress levels include a daily meditation practice, mind/body movement, and present-minded thinking. Many apps can be downloaded to provide guided meditation. Meditation is as simple as moving your focus from your stressor to your breath. Hold your focus on the breath, noticing how it feels. Take a moment to slow down your breath, especially the exhale. Start this practice for 1 minute and work your way up to 10 minutes a day. You can also incorporate mind-body movement into your day. This can include yoga, tai chi, qigong, and more. Anything that brings your breath and your body movement together. Adopting a practice of present-minded thinking is a mindfulness technique developed by Jon Kabat Zinn. He believes that bringing your attention to the present moment, on purpose and without judgment, promotes reduced stress and improves one's overall health. As with any other practice, The importance of these stress reduction techniques is consistency. You must build a daily practice to experience the full benefits of these stress reduction techniques.


A PD diagnosis does not have to define you. There are many ways to stay well and manage your diagnosis with lifestyle modifications. Implementing these tips into your day will give you a sense of control over your life, one slight modification at a time. At Wellness 360, we aim to support you throughout your diagnosis. We do this by offering community talks, blogs, and special resources to educate and inform you on the latest studies and ways to manage your diagnosis. We provide one-on-one physical therapy, massage therapy, and group fitness classes using evidence-based treatment plans and exercises. Our vision is to support you as an individual and advise treatment based on your goals and your individual needs. Learn more about our growing organization at www.wellness360fitness.com.



 


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