Early Onset Parkinson's and exercise

Hi folks,

My dad was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s probably about a year and a half ago now. He has always been fit, he used to play rugby when he was younger, then moved onto running and marathons, but now he just does the Park Run (5k run) and when he is in France he cycles (they have a house in France in the countryside and they spend probably about 4 months of the year there). But when I look at him run, and I know he is in his mid 70s, but I can see that his Parkinson’s is starting to affect him. I did the Park Run with him over the Christmas period and he looked so frail when he finished, he was leaning to one side as he was running and as he crossed the line he was asked if he needed help to get down the tunnel to the end as he looked unsteady and quite weak. Now I know my dad and he is as stubborn as a mule and of course he denied the help. He has been running for over 30 years since he gave up rugby so he is desperate to keep it going, I am a runner too and I know exactly how he feels about not running. I worry, and wonder, if this is the right exercise for him to keep doing. I know exercise is good for his well being, both mentally and physically, but I just want him to be doing the right thing.

But it also worries me that he says he wants to cycle more. Seeing how frail he was after the 5k run I can’t help but think terrible thoughts about him getting on a bike on the roads, especially in this country. Many years ago he fell off his bike and broke his wrist in France, and that was when he was fit and healthy. He has lost a lot of weight and there’s nothing to him now (he’s never been a big chap though) so the slightest gust of wind or a lorry cycling past too close will have him over I’m sure.

So I’m just a concerned daughter just looking for any advice and tips re exercise and early onset Parkinson’s.

Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from some of you soon.

Anna :slight_smile:

Anna, Good for him, make sure he keeps running and cycling. In a safe environment its the very best thing he can do to fight PD. I’m almsot his age and have not been able to run even 20 yards for years, and that will have helped trigger my PD. Find safe tracks but dont stop his exrecise whatever you do.

PS “early onset PD” in mid-70s…more like idiopathic PD ?

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Could you persuade him to use a static exercise bike instead? I know the scenery is poorer but the music can be good, or a dvd in the telly…

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Search for “Calisthenics” in YouTube. Minimal equipment required. It has helped me.

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Thank you, I do want him to carry on, definitely, he just looked so frail afterwards, but I know what he is like and he would rather lose a limb before he gives up his running! What do you do exercise wise?

(going off to google idiopathic PD now)

I am at the early stages of Convict Conditioning, which uses calisthenics. Sadly the book is out of print, but is available on Kindle.

There are very good videos. This one is the first in a series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nr3rltL3aQ

As you get used to exercises, you make them more difficult.

Good luck.

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Welcome to the forum.

You’ve received a lot great advice already, however I just thought you’d like to know that we have a section on the Parkinson’s website dedicated to exercise which goes into details about the different styles of exercise suitable for people at different stages of their Parkinson’s journey. You can find this information here.

We also have a dedicated team of Parkinson’s advisers via our helpline service who can offer you more support and information regarding your father’s situation. Please give them a call on 0808 800 0303.

I hope you find the forum useful and engaging.

Best wishes,

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We did think about that, maybe we could get him one of those things to lift up the back wheel so he can still use his normal bike. And if he’s got the iPad in front of him he could catch up on loads of telly!

Thank you that’s great. I’ll let him know about them and I’ll have a look myself too. :slight_smile: