Exercise has proven to be beneficial to people living with Parkinson’s disease. The best exercise for you is the exercise that you’ll actually do! There are so many different options today including Rock Steady Boxing, Dance for PD, yoga, NIA exercise and cycling – and so many more. Cycling is the one exercise demonstration that you won’t see at the Unity Walk because the logistics of delivering multiple stationary bikes to Central Park is beyond what we can accomplish. Since we can’t showcase cycling classes at the Walk, we thought we’d use our blog to share some insights into the cycling classes being offered around the country.
PUW Event Director
On Monday mornings, the Boston JCC offers a cycling class that looks like any other. But there’s more to this cycle class than meets the eye: Each of its students has Parkinson’s disease, a neurological condition that impairs movement and function.
Cycling on stationary bikes may provide symptomatic relief for people with Parkinson’s disease, especially if they cycle using what is described as forced exercise, i.e. pedaling at a rate faster than their natural cadence. Researchers found this type of cycling exercise appeared to make regions of the brain that deal with movement connect to each other more effectively. Cycling gives individuals the opportunity to build lower leg muscles in a safe way and individuals may also see an increase in energy level while enjoying exercise in a group environment. These are all truly beneficial to the population living with Parkinson’s disease.
The Boston JCC is the only fitness facility in the area to offer a cycling class for people with Parkinson’s and the interest and participation have been extremely positive. The instructors are certified Parkinson’s Cycling Coaches in addition to being experienced cycle instructors, both of which are very important in this specialized cycle class. Karen Sauer, a class participant who never rode on a stationary bike before taking the class is very happy that she is participating in the cycle class. “I think I am probably in better condition than I would be if I didn’t have Parkinson’s disease. It’s unlikely that I would be taking a cycle class otherwise. Or the other gym classes. That just wasn’t me, pre-diagnosis. Yes, there are challenges, and it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s Parkinson’s disease and what’s aging, but I am optimistic about the future! Thanks for making exercise fun!”
The JCC and the Movement Disorder Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are partnering to provide a wide range of fitness programs to the greater Boston community. The offerings are part of the Edmond J. Safra National Parkinson’s Wellness Initiative, launched to improve the lives of people suffering from Parkinson’s, a chronic and progressive movement disorder.
Click here to read Boston Magazine’s feature story on the JCC’s cycling program.
If you’re interested in the JCC’s Parkinson’s programming, visit www.bostonjcc.org or call 617-558-6459.
Assistant Wellness Director
Boston Jewish Community Center