Staying active does not necessarily mean taking up a new exercise or joining a gym, being active can be doing more of what you already do.
A symptom of Parkinson’s is that you may become stiffer. When you walk, parts of your body are constantly counter-rotating, which allows you to move smoothly. If your muscles become tighter it means there’s reduced ability to move the segments of your body independent to each other. Staying active is important to help you maximise the movement you have and enable you to do more.
Staying active is going out doing stuff and definitely doing some physical exercise. People are often surprised at how much better they feel from being active.
Here are some tips to help you keep active:
Find an activity you enjoy.
If you plan to start an exercise regime then enjoyment is the key. Think of what you will enjoy, or already enjoy. That way, it’s much less effort than adding another layer of things to do. It may be an activity that you used to do and don’t do so much now. Exercise can take many forms and doesn’t need to involve learning a new skill or investing in equipment.
Give the activity meaning.
If you decide to do more walking, beyond the physical act of walking, what could that actually mean? What could it allow you to do? What could you participate in or have access to? Is it working, is it leisure, friends, being out with the dogs? Giving the task meaning gives it more context than just focusing on a physical problem and remedy, it integrates exercise into your life.
Whatever you do, keep moving.
Movement is better than sitting even when at home. It’s fine to have rest periods, but make sure you keep moving. For example, pottering around your home is important.
Leisure activity can be as important as exercise, going out to lunch, going out to do something is vital to everyone’s wellbeing. Socialising can be as important to keeping mobile as exercise. Social activity is a really important part of being active. Keep going out, keep seeing friends.
Think about the logistics.
When planning your activity think about the logistics of the whole plan. For instance, if you are going to go swimming, factor in how you will actually get to the pool not just planning what exercises you will do once you get there.
It can help to focus on changing one symptom at a time.
Sometimes focusing on a particular symptom might be more positive than the whole spectrum of your Parkinson’s, because while it might not be possible to change the whole picture you might change some parts.
Think of the benefits of exercise as long term, don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t feeling a change in your symptoms straight away, keep at it and over time you’ll see the difference. Use the planner to track the change.