PD 101: Exercise, Medication, Nutrition & Lifestyle

I’m a relative newbie to PD, having been diagnosed 2-1/2 years ago. Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure to meet individuals who have lived with Parkinson’s for 10 to 20 years, and more. The common theme for living well with PD is regular exercise. The sooner that you learn to love to exercise, or at least find an exercise program that you enjoy, the better off you will be.

You need to think of exercise as your most important prescription, something that you need to make time for almost every day.  Exercise is more important than any medication. (But medication is often necessary or helpful to maximize your ability to exercise.)

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How Much Should I Exercise for PD?

At the recent World Parkinson Congress 2016, the main theme that I noticed is that exercise is the best medicine for PD. It may not be as effective at treating PD symptoms as l-dopa, but all the research and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that collectively, those who exercise regularly enjoy a far better quality of life with PD, for a longer period of time, as compared to those who do not. While medical research continues to be important, the best thing that can be done for the growing number of People with Parkinson’s (PwP) today is to encourage exercise.

There is a growing consensus that more exercise is better, and there is concern that many PwP are being given outdated or incomplete exercise recommendations.

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Orthostatic Hypotension and Parkinson’s Disease

One of my fellow boxers at the Rock Steady Boxing affiliate in Hilton Head/Bluffton, SC has been having issues of dizziness and brain fog/light headedness. He’s not alone, as 1 in 5 people with Parkinson’s are also diagnosed with Orthostatic Hypotension. I’ve been collecting some information to help him prepare for his next doctor’s appointment, and thought this may be helpful to share with others.

Most of us are familiar with the term hypertension, which refers to high blood pressure. Hypotension refers too low blood pressure. Orthostatic is a medical adjective that indicates a condition relating to or caused by an upright posture. Orthostatic hypotension is a condition in which your blood pressure falls significantly when you stand up quickly.

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Reflections on World Parkinson Congress 2016

This was my first time attending the World Parkinson Congress. I suppose that is understandable considering that the congress is held every 3 years, and it has only been 2-1/2 years since my diagnosis. Prior to that, PD was not on my radar. As a congress newbie PwP, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts and “take-aways” from the congress, in no particular order of importance or relevance.

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Kickboxing for Parkinson’s Disease

For the past 5 months, I’ve been participating in a Kickboxing for Parkinson’s Disease class at Rip Tide MMA in Bluffton/Hilton Head, South Carolina (now a Rock Steady Boxing affiliate). It has pushed me to exercise harder, helped me get stronger, and improved my hand/eye coordination (or as we call it the mind muscle connection). To put it simply, this is the best thing that I’ve done for myself all year.

I made this video to help others understand what these classes are about. If you have Parkinson’s, then you owe it to yourself to find a class like this. Visit http://rocksteadyboxing.org today. As the song in this video says, “Never look back and say, could have been me.”

The song in the video is “Could Have Been Me” by The Struts. It wasn’t written about fighting PD, but it is a perfect anthem for this fight.

Don’t wanna live as an untold story.
Rather go out in a blaze of glory.
I can’t hear you, I don’t fear you!

I wanna taste love and pain,
Wanna feel pride and shame.
I don’t wanna take my time,
Don’t wanna waste one line.
I wanna live better days,
Never look back and say,
Could have been me

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