Our walking and talking group is a great support with Parkinson’s
The group provides opportunities for both exercise and connection
Every Tuesday afternoon you can see us. We might be outside at the park or, if there’s inclement weather, inside at the mall. Sometimes there are only two of us; other times, there are up to 12. It’s our Tuesday walking group for people with Parkinson’s disease.
The casual passerby wouldn’t know we had Parkinson’s. They probably wouldn’t notice the lack of arm swinging, the soft voices, or the occasionally shuffling feet. What they would see is a group of people enjoying one another’s company. People who are engaged in conversation. People who are exercising.
Usually, somebody needs to sit down for a rest at the first or second bench. That’s OK. They will get picked up on the way back. No man is left behind!
People who can relate
We started up over a year ago. It was No. 1 on my list of things to do after my deep brain stimulation surgery. Actually, I originally wanted to create a running group, but nobody expressed interest!
This group has turned into a pseudo-support group. We walk for approximately 30 minutes, then sit and chat for another 30. Is it about the walking or the talking? We share stories, worries, and joys. Not everything is about Parkinson’s, but it’s nice to know that you’re with people who can relate to whatever you’re going through at that particular moment.
Starting a walking group seemed easy. Everyone can walk, right? The joke was on me; many of my acquaintances with Parkinson’s have struggled at some point to walk. Gait freezing isn’t fun, and dyskinesia can be disruptive. Also, multitasking (walking and talking) can throw a wrench in the works when you least expect it. Mix in a bit of apathy and it’s surprising that this group exists!
Recently, our local Parkinson Society held its annual Walk for Parkinson’s fundraiser. I saw this as an opportunity to promote our fantastic walking group. I set up a table with a sign-up sheet for people to share their email addresses and get my weekly reminders. I also printed off about 20 information sheets. By the fundraiser’s end, I only had three people signed up. Not one to be discouraged, I then went around from table to table with the information sheets, promoting the heck out of it.
The following week, only one new person joined the group. At first, I felt disappointed that more people hadn’t seized the opportunity to join us. Since then, satisfaction has replaced disappointment. This group is happy to exercise and form genuine friendships. People I never would’ve met otherwise have become friends and acquaintances.
The bonus? One walker has started running with my husband, John, and me. I might get that running group yet!
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.