At Landice, we have always been strong advocates of a healthy lifestyles. Exercise is a major ingredient in this choice and the following excerpt from a recent New York Times article maintains this idea. For the full article, please click HERE.
Susan Sills, a Brooklyn artist who until recently made life-size cutouts on plywood using a power saw, long suspected she might be at risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. Both her mother and grandfather had this neurological movement disorder, and she knew that it sometimes runs in families.
So she was not surprised when at age 72 she first noticed hand tremors and a neurologist confirmed that she had the disease. But to watch her in action three years later, it would be hard for a layperson to tell. She stands straight, walks briskly, speaks in clarion tones and maintains a schedule that could tire someone half her age.
Ms. Sills attributes her energy and well-being partly to the medication she takes but primarily to the hours she spends working out with a physical therapist and personal trainer, who have helped her develop an exercise regimen that, while not a cure, can alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms and slow progression of the disease.
“The exercises opened me up,” said Ms. Sills, allowing such symptoms as small steps, slow movements and tiny, cramped handwriting to subside.
“The earlier people begin exercising after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and the higher the intensity of exercise they achieve, the better they are,” Marilyn Moffat, a physical therapist on the faculty of New York University, said. “Many different activities have been shown to be beneficial, including cycling, boxing, dancing and walking forward and backward on a treadmill. If someone doesn’t like one activity, there are others that can have equally good results.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Moffat added, “no one tells people with Parkinson’s what they could and should be doing unless they get to a physical therapist.”
While everyone can benefit from exercise, it is especially important for people with a progressive movement disorder like Parkinson’s that can result in weakness, stiffness, difficulty walking, poor balance and falls, as well as impaired cognitive processing. Regular exercise bestows increased levels of fitness; a greater sense of well-being; stronger muscles and bones; healthier joints; more efficient breathing; and better digestion and blood circulation. The result is enhanced physical, mental and cognitive health, all of which are especially important to people with a chronic ailment.
For Parkinson’s patients in particular, regular exercise tailored to their needs can result in better posture; less stiffness; improved flexibility of muscles and joints; faster and safer walking ability; less difficulty performing the tasks of daily living; and an overall higher quality of life.
The exercise program that has mainly helped Ms. Sills, called L.S.V.T. BIG, evolved from the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program – L.S.V.T. LOUD — created to improve the speech of Parkinson’s patients, who tend to talk more and more softly. Developed specifically to counter the unique movement impairments associated with Parkinson’s, it trains patients to “make big strong movements, not little weak ones,” Ms. Sills said, for example, taking big steps and swinging your arms widely when you walk. “This is the normal way to walk, but not when you have Parkinson’s, but it no longer feels strange to me,” she said.