April 16, 2011

My exercise routine looks like a lot but it really isn't

Here's the exercise routine I try to do every day:

  • I give top priority to my BIG exercises. As I've mentioned before, the BIG exercise program was specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s by the same organization – Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) – that developed the LOUD speech therapy for PD people.  Fortunately for me, training in the program is offered at Georgetown University Hospital, where my neurologist practices.The program involves two one-hour training sessions each week for four weeks.  But once you've got the training, it doesn't take much more than 10 minutes to do all seven exercises.  Since I can tell that it's been a big help to me, I'm pretty faithful about doing these exercises every day.  If you are interested in seeing if BIG training is offered in your area, click on the “Find a Clinician” button on this home page for LSVT: http://www.lsvtglobal.com/index.php?action=what-is-lsvt).
  • My BIG exercise therapist mentioned that the hospital's physical therapy department also offered training in alleviating incontinence. Given the progress I'd made with BIG, I decided to sign on for this and got a prescription for the exercise therapy from my urologist.  This training has turned out to be as beneficial as BIG.  Six months ago I was making bathroom visits  3, 4, or 5 times a night.  Now I get up only once.  And formerly I'd  have difficulty sitting through a movie without having to interrupt it with a men's room visit.  Today, for example, I used the bathroom about 9 a.m. before heading out to a meeting where I had my third cup of coffee for the morning and sat through a two-hour meeting followed by a lunch.  It was probably 12:30 or later before I made a men's room visit. This exercise program involves doing quickie Kegel exercises (which take a little over a minute to do a set of them and easily can be done, for example, during a TV commercial break, while waiting for water to boil in the kitchen, or while waiting for something to happen on the computer.  The second part of the program consists of pelvic floor strengthening exercises that involve using elastic stretch bands and takes a little more time, but the full set of exercises doesn't take much more than 5 minutes.For a fuller description of this exercise program, see http://parkinsonsand5htp.blogspot.com/2010/12/exercise-program-for-incontinence-that.html.
  • I try to do a variety of mini exercises while taking computer breaks.  I can get too absorbed and carried away when working on the computer so I keep a kitchen timer on my desk set for 45 minutes. When it goes off, I take a break and do a few minutes of exercise.  I keep a set of  hand weights in my home office/den for that purpose.  I've also added a couple of bean bags that I use for some of the exercises featured in the "Active Aging and Mobility" video that I reviewed earlier this week. And I sometimes use a few of the exercises depicted  in the excellent book: "Delay the Disease: Exercise and Parkinson's Disease."
  • During my 4 a.m. meditation hour I've incorporated a progressive muscle relaxation exercise that I'll describe in a separate post.
As I said, this looks like a lot. But even if I did them all in a day (which I'll admit I seldom do), it probably wouldn't add up to much more than 30 minutes total. None of the above exercises are very vigorous or aerobic.  My gardening is where I get that type of exercise. As I've mentioned before, in years past any day with decent weather you'd find me out on my bike.  But now that my biking is pretty much restricted to short rides on flat terrain, I've thrown myself instead into gardening big time.  And I'm thoroughly enjoying it.  Unlike biking or working out in a gym, gardening not only provides exercise but a tangible resulting product.

Walking continues to be another welcome exercise outlet. Fortunately I live in a neighborhood where I can walk to the bank or the grocery store. The Washington Mall, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, the new U Street neighborhood... all offer interesting opportunities for exploratory walks.

The one big problem with Washington is that the climate often discourages outdoor exercise in the winter and summer.  Actually, the winters don't bother me too much, but as I age, I find it increasingly difficult to deal with DC's heat and humidity.

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