Parkinson's and Exercise

An inspirational article in 'Shape' magazine's November issue tells the story of Jennifer Parkinson (her actual name) who first began experiencing the telltale tremors of Parkinson's disease at the age of 30. As the tremors worsened and symptoms grew to include a stiffening body and leg-dragging rigidity, she was ultimately diagnosed with Early-Onset Parkinson's at age 32. Along with the diagnosis, the doctor informed the young mother of two that within 10 years she would be confined to a wheelchair and no longer able to care for either herself or her children. The story describes how, with medication alone, she attempted (unsuccessfully) to hold on to her marriage and her career. Deteriorating symptoms that grew to include increasing fatigue, greater trouble walking, and body freezes ended all that. Facing this grim 'new reality', she finally committed to a certain exercise regime as a possible remedy. Gradually, her painful state of waking each day "almost immobilized" began improving until, "within a year, her symptoms had practically disappeared." The regular exercise program presently finds her (going on 10 years since initial diagnosis) supporting herself and her children as a boxing instructor. Bravo... keep moving!

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  • Go girl . I'm 54 and was diagnosed when I was38 , I still get up and work each day as a heavy haulage truck driver. I'm lucky I have a loving wife who stays with me through this never ending battle, I wake up every morning stiff and sore but you just push on through all of it other wise the Parkinson's will win and even though we no it will bet me one day I'll still make it work hard to get any inch that it try's to take off of me. I still only have it on the left side but there are a few signs starting to sneak through on the right side. You have to stay strong and fight the battle or else you become the loser. Keep up the fight in the hope that we can in courage others. Signed Mike (Shakey)

  • Can anybody tell me 1.) what exercise routine Jennifer used,and 2.) how to find the magazine article about her online since I don't live in the States and can't buy the magazine.


  • Do you have any American friends who can scan the article and email it to you?

  • good idea. thanks.

  • Can you tell me who publishes Shape magazine, or who distributes it in UK.

  • What an inspiring story!

  • In Jennifer Parkinson's case, she'd read of a program in Illinois that "was teaching patients with the disease to control their symptoms through boxing". She then located a kickboxing instructor in her own area and, although never before 'athletic', began the intense 1hr, 3x p/wk training: "the hardest thing I've ever done". The story notes that boxing with it's "punching, jabbing, and kicking" (like various other forms of sport & exercise) "helps improve balance and coordination, and strengthens the mind's control over the body's movement", (the critical 'take-away' from her story here!) and "the intensity of the workout also loosens stiff muscles and increases stamina."

    After a few months, she noticed "a marked improvement" and a "renewed surge of energy"... "everyday maladies began to ease as well"... "I could play soccer with my son for 3 hours, something I hadn't been able to do since my diagnosis". Exercise is NOT a cure, however, and she notes that if she stops her exercise and/or meds for a period of time, "symptoms start getting worse again". Moral of the story: Find an activity that challenges you physically and mentally in your area and commit i.e., keep moving!

    [I suspect that after a few weeks, the article will be available via online search]

  • walking outside briskly for an hour 3 X week has made a big difference for me--no longer dragging left leg/foot, and increased energy during the day. And walking certainly helps with constipation too. I notice I move around a lot quicker now. It's only been a few months, so who knows what a difference a year will make!

  • Hi. The boxing program Jennifer found was Rock Steady Boxing (RSB). It actually originated in Indianapolis, Indiana (home of the 500 race) in October, 2006. The reason I know is because I am a current member of RSB and I started in January, 2007 when there were only about a dozen people. I met Jennifer when she visited RSB. Now there are close to 200 PwP members in Indianapolis, and I'm not sure of the exact #'s, but over 30 affiliates in the U.S. and we also have affiliates in Canada, Australia, and Italy. Last weekend we had someone from Scotland take the training class to be a coach.

    I was diagnosed with PD over 11 years ago at the age of 46 and most people cannot tell that I have PD. And I owe a lot of it to RSB. I am currently on Parcopa, which is basically the same as Sinemet, but it dissolves on the tongue. I take 4 or 5 day, plus 2 Azilect and 2 Amantadine. RSB is a wonderful program. It's what keeps me moving. The boxing, as well as other strengthening exercises help keep you moving and I truly believe that it slows the progression. It's a 1 1/2 hour program and I try to go at least 2-3 times a week. If I miss a week, I can really tell a difference. It definitely helps my mobility. Another thing about RSB, it's a type of support group, a place you can go to and be yourself. It's strictly for PwP's, so everyone there knows how you're feeling. You can talk to others about your meds, about your symptoms, you can give helpful information and receive helpful information. We are one big family and we encourage each other along the way which helps keep our chins up. You don't go to RSB and see people moping around. They are all working out hard, with a smile believe it or not, and willing to help each other out. We are all there to do one thing and that is to keep on fighting this annoying disease.

    Rock Steady has a website: Please check it out and see if there is an affiliate near you or hopefully there may be one coming soon. If not, maybe you know someone that would like to train to be a coach. Also check out the videos, the pictures, and the testimonials. Thanks for reading this. All of us at RSB are so proud to talk about such a wonderful program that actually works! Let me know if you have any questions.

  • GREAT JOB!!! I to plan on using my body as long as i can, through hard work. Keep up great work.

  • Meta

    This thread with its replies is an inspiration.


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