Tip-toeing Through the PD Tulips (or Running, or Biking…)
Tip-toeing Through the PD Tulips (or Running, or Biking…)
My last post was something of a downer, so hopefully this one will be better….
Mo and I attended a Vitality walk for Parkinson’s on Sunday with a team organized by local PT Emily Moncheski. We attended the walk this year with a booth for the Unsteady Hand (and I say booth lightly – we were the only booth, and we were set up on a picnic table, lol). We are incredible grateful to Emily for inviting us to set up and speak to people about what we are doing. I think this was the first year that there was a Vitality team walking in Colorado Springs, and I can see this becoming a HUGE annual event and fundraiser. It was much colder than expected, but there was a great turnout for the walk and we got the chance to speak to several people about The Unsteady Hand and we even had a few people sit down and play with pastels and make some art! (If you are interested in learning about Mo’s newest adventure, hop over to www.theunsteadyhand.com)
I was incredibly inspired by all the people with Parkinson’s who were out in force yesterday walking around the lake. I was especially motivated by an older gentleman who came back to the pavilion where his family was waiting (after he did a couple of 1.25 mile laps), and told them he wanted to do another lap!
I’ve been an exerciser since I was a kid. I started out with gymnastics three times a week, moving into high school gymnastics and cheerleading as I got older. I’ve always been an avid bike rider, and I am a professional intermittent gym-goer. I have done everything under the sun, from Pilates to yoga to boxing to spinning to CrossFit to step aerobics (we all have SOMETHING we regret from the 90’s). Sometimes I will go for a few years doing one particular thing, then take a little time off, but I always come back to doing something. I just feel better when I am active.
This is quite different from my parents’ generation. I can tell you with certainty that most of my family, aunts and uncles and grandparent on both sides don’t ‘work out’ regularly. It feels a little like a generational thing, sort of like coffee shops. When I was little, coffee shops were not a thing. No one would have dreamed of paying $4 for a cup of coffee, and going to a store that only sold coffee was unheard of. You wanted coffee, you made coffee at home. Same for the gym. CrossFit and 24-Hour Fitness and Golds Gym just didn’t exist. If you wanted to exercise regularly you were either running or you were doing Jane Fonda with your brand-new VCR (ok, so apparently there are also things to regret from the 80’s…). Now there is a Starbucks on every corner and an Orange Theory Fitness right next door.
I guess my point is, we gravitate to we are comfortable and familiar with. I’ve been exercising since I was little because it was all available to me, and as I got older the workout craze was taking off, so I had a lot of options to choose from that kept me in the game. My parents’ generation, and a lot of PWP who are also of that generation now in their sixties and seventies and eighties didn’t go through their adult life with a gym on every corner or the idea that regular exercise was a required part of life. To tell someone now at the age of sixty that they suddenly need to exercise to stave off PD progression, regular and vigorous exercise? This must seem like a huge obstacle to someone who has not exercised regularly throughout their life. It’s tough to suddenly have to figure this out and make their body work in ways it isn’t used to. It hurts. It makes you tired. You have to find time in your day. You have to work against the general mental apathy you are already feeling because of PD, just to get off the couch. Never mind trying to remember where your sneakers are when your brain fog is in full force.
With all this working against PWP, I am SO amazed and inspired and motivated by every PWP that I have come across in the past few months that gets out there and MOVES. Emily did a 10 minute warmup with a group of 50-60 people yesterday in the park that had EVERYONE up and moving around and stretching and dancing. Even more inspiring was this same ‘warm-up’ that I watched her lead a couple of months ago for a group of more than 100 PWP and care partners at a support group gathering – and almost all of these people were in that older generation I mentioned earlier. Awesome to watch!
For you Parkies, this was just to tell you I am in awe of your motivation to keep getting off the couch and doing what you need to do every do to shove the PD monkey off your back a little bit. Some of you are my age and maybe used to more regular exercise, many of you older and NOT used to having to do that. Every one of you inspire me.
For the care partners here, I am talking to you too! I complained on my FB page when I had to get up super-early for a workout today. Instead, I should have been celebrating the fact that I can still bounce (ok, it was more of a slow roll today) out of bed. I can still make my body do what it needs to do to stay strong and healthy. Keeping myself healthy and in shape is the very best gift I can give my Parkie, so that I can continue to take care of him when he needs me.
There was a time for all of us, if we are honest, when the workout was probably underlaid by a strong streak of vanity. We all just wanted to look good naked. Now, there is a stronger purpose for all of this effort, and in the end it DOES make it easier to get up and get going in the morning. And let’s face it care partners, your Parkie, who REQUIRES exercise, is not going to be motivated if he sees YOU being a couch potato.
So, get up, get moving, bitch a little and then stretch. And get out the door and find some kind of exercise. Buy a dog that you have to walk. Buy a treadmill so you don’t have an excuse when it’s cold outside. Buy a pair of expensive sneakers and admire how they flash in the sun while you walk around the block. Whatever it takes to get moving, do it. And be grateful EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. that you still have the ability to move and use your muscles and breathe.
Every day that we are on this side of the dirt is a gift, so cherish every minute of every day you get.
Thanks for listening today….