A study on Parkinson’s and exercise affirms I’m on the right track

banner image for the column "Living My Best Life" by Christine Scheer

For the past couple weeks, I’ve had the post-holiday blues. I’ve also been training for a 5K road race in June. Both of these things have left me exhausted. All I can think about is when I’ll be able to take a nap or go to bed, or whether or not it’s time to get up. Ugh.

Last weekend, something shifted and perked me up: I felt hopeful. It happened after reading one of the more optimistic articles I’ve seen about the effects of exercise on Parkinson’s disease. Before I knew it, I was sending texts and emails to friends and family saying that, hopefully, I’d be getting better! I couldn’t contain myself. I was so excited.

A pilot study published in npj Parkinson’s Disease in February had suggested that not only could exercise slow down Parkinson’s progression, it also could potentially reverse some of the damage. All the exercise I’d been doing appeared to indeed be a good use of my time.

While the study was small and included only recently diagnosed people, I thought perhaps the next one might include people like me who were diagnosed several years ago.

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We do what we can

One of the many things that annoys me about this infernal disease is that, according to researchers, damage starts years before the symptoms appear. How are we supposed to contend with years of damage? We can’t, but we can do our best to fight the disease now, starting to slow the progression as soon as we are diagnosed. We still have many years ahead of us, so why not make them the best they can be?

I realize that we’re all different, and I’m lucky that my worst symptom has always been tremor, which apparently is one of the easiest things to target with deep brain stimulation (DBS). Also, I was relatively young — 54 — when I was diagnosed in 2015, and I’ve got a great neurologist who listens to me and supported me through DBS in 2021.

What I’m saying here is this: Do what you can, and don’t give up hope. Try to surround yourself with people who support you and make you feel good. Be grateful and educate yourself about Parkinson’s. Just like running, managing the everyday mess that Parkinson’s dumps on us is a bit of a mind game, and attitude counts.

So here it is, week five of training, and yes, I’m still exhausted. But I have way more motivation now. I have wildly unrealistic expectations of myself, but I don’t care. I have a goal, a plan, and an incentive. Nothing will stop me.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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