Earlier this week, I talked about my trip to Halifax, the Canadian Gerontology conference and some family visits (recap HERE). Following this, Monday morning, I got up at the crack of dawn (actually, 3:45am), drove to Halifax airport, and took a couple planes to Hartford Conneticut.
I then got in another rental car, and pulled into Kripalu. Ahhhhh om.
I spent the week as part of “A Wellness Retreat for People Living with Parkinson’s disease and their Care Partners”, sponsored by the National Parkinson Foundation (their app here!). This is my THIRD time attending this retreat (see previous HERE and HERE) and I felt really honored to be able to deliver a session on how to be an informed exercise participant.
The session talked about how we move and where this goes wrong in Parkinson’s.
When the higher brain (decision making and planning) decides to move, it sends a signal to motor cortices which send a signal to the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia determines which muscles will participate and the amplitude of their activity… like creating a “recipe” for movement.
This “recipe” gets sent to the premotor (spatial planning, trunk muscles) and supplementary motor areas (coordination of body sides, postural stabilization) and onto the spinal neurons.
Spinal neurons then activate the muscles (bundles of fibres that contract by sliding over each other and create force) … as the “recipe” dicates
So the basal ganglia plays a significant role in “modulating” movement… and this is affected in PD… showing up as weakness, rigidity, fatigue, coordination etc.
AND, the ability to express an idea is limited with Parkinson’s, since it affects the muscles of your larynx, mouth and tongue (spoken words); fingers (written words or “talking with your hands”); or skeletal muscles (body language, dancing, running, building or fighting).
So, how does exercise benefit persons with PD? Well,
(a) intensive activity maximizes synaptic plasticity;
(b) complex activities promote greater structural adaptation;
(c) activities that are rewarding increase dopamine levels and therefore promote learning/relearning;
(d) dopaminergic neurones are highly responsive to exercise and inactivity (“use it or lose it”);
(e) where exercise is introduced at an early stage of the disease, progression can be slowed.
It was a wonderfully full week, with a great group of 71 participants!
We “Let Your Yoga Danced” with Megha, discussed relationship and communication strategies with Kara Barton, resilience with Maria, PD 101 with Dr. David Houghton, the wisdom of yoga with Aruni and “got our yoga on” all week!
Check back next week, where I’ll discuss some specific exercise strategies I discussed in relation to PD pathology and symptoms. Much love.