With Parkinson’s and exercise, my mantra is ‘challenge yourself’

A good way to get moving is to have goals and accountability

Christine Scheer avatar

by Christine Scheer |

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“Challenge yourself!” a fitness instructor once said to me. It was some of the best fitness advice I’ve ever received. In fact, it will be my mantra for 2024.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Six years later, I had deep brain stimulation surgery. Before I went in for the procedure, I promised myself to come out of it strong, and that meant being committed to exercising and living my best life.

So when do I think about challenging myself? Some days, I do it to get out the door and go for a run or even a walk. I often don’t feel like doing it. When that happens, having a routine becomes extremely important. So does accountability.

Every Saturday, I go for a run in the park with my friends. Would I do this on my own? Probably not, but I do it because my friends are counting on me. And each week, I marvel at how good I feel after the run.

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A win for everyone

Reminding myself how good I’ll feel after any exercise (it doesn’t have to be running) is another positive way to get myself moving. After any workout, if I have challenged myself by lifting heavier weights, doing extra pushups, or walking an extra kilometer, I feel stronger, have a sense of achievement and more confidence, and am more optimistic. That’s a win for anyone.

Another great way to get myself moving is to have goals. Last year, we entered two local 5-kilometer races. I challenged myself and finished both.

If I’ve given you the impression that I am fast, you are mistaken! I’ve embraced my position in the slow lane. In one of those races, a gentleman who was easily in the 80- to 90-year-old category passed me, as did a woman with a knee brace who was obviously uncomfortable.

Recently, one of my friends with Parkinson’s started joining us on our Saturday runs. He’d given up on running after his diagnosis, and now we cheer each other on. He challenged himself and he is doing it, which thrills and inspires me. Each week, we sprint across our imaginary finish line and feel a fantastic sense of accomplishment. Fist bumps all around! This “herd of turtles,” as my friend calls us, is doing it.

Studies show that exercise benefits people with Parkinson’s disease. It can help with strength, balance, mobility, walking, flexibility, and aerobic capacity. But can it slow down progression? According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, studies reveal that people with Parkinson’s disease who exercise experience less disability and better function compared with those who don’t.

So why not challenge yourself this year to an exercise routine that you enjoy and experience a sense of accomplishment that sitting on the couch won’t provide? We are in this together, friends, so let’s do it!

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.


Sein Win avatar

Sein Win

I have PD came around 2019. I think I have stage 2 or 3 PD now. I really enjoyed reading the information from the email. Especially I like to get exercises. Now I always meet my neurology doctor about two months.

Mark Nicholson avatar

Mark Nicholson

I have tried everything from megadosing Vit B to cannabis and nothing has any effect but exercise. My neurologist just says 'Exercise till you drop EVERY DAY and you will slow progression'. I believe him.

Gator man avatar

Gator man

Christine your CHALLENGE is so very encouraging and thank you for throwing down a CHALLENGE to GET MOVING !!
You are right, WE MUST MOVE AND STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE, to help ourselves !!
We have Parkinsons' and moving is what we can do to help ourselves.

Bob Sutcliffe avatar

Bob Sutcliffe

All I can say is ditto, Christine! I was diagnosed on June 24,2014. I’ve had DBS on both sides of my brain. I'm 76 years old and do many forms of exercise , including yoga, walking, bicycling, boxing, circuit training, and kayaking. I’m convinced that exercise slows down Parkinson’s progression. But, if I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter. Exercise is a quality of life decision.

Bernadette Nicholson avatar

Bernadette Nicholson

Christine...thanks you for an inspiring post. Exercise makes everyday better for me. I was only diagnosed a year ago but know moving and what I eat are key!

George Clark avatar

George Clark

I agree 100% with the theme of this article. Given the PD diagnosis, most folks will have a multi year opportunity to impact their longevity as well as stave off or reduce the impacts of advancing symptoms. I was blessed with a relatively slow progression case and am acutely that others may have more severe cases. We can encourage each other and inspire each other in group activities such as Rock Steady Boxing. Intensity of exercise is critical. Some folks are self starters, others need to be held accountable. Whatever it takes! 2024 ahead,,,, grab it and make the most of it. All the best to my fellow "parkkies".


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