I have been wondering what it is about exercising that so many people resist. From time to time I have patients look me squarely in the eye and admit that it’s unlikely they will perform any recommended exercise once they leave my office.  Now, while I appreciate their honesty, it is nevertheless perplexing to me. For example, a patient with a medical diagnosis of Parkinson’s showed evidence of a severe swallowing problem on a video swallow study; yet, he told me point blank “I hate to exercise.” Another patient was hospitalized seven times in the last year for breathing complications and aspiration (liquid getting into her lungs), and her voice was barely audible. As we discussed possible options for improving swallowing function, she indicated little interest, stating: “I hate to exercise.” In both instances, the patient’s swallowing problems are likely to worsen without engaging in some swallowing exercise, and similarly, voice changes related to Parkinson’s are also likely to worsen without  engaging in exercise focused on improving symptoms.

So, is it the word “exercise” itself that creates such resistance?  After all, a glance in the dictionary and you quickly notice the words that surround it: exhaustion: extreme weariness; excrutiating: intensely painful or distressing; exasperate: irritate.But wait, what about:

exhilarate: to enliven, stimulate; excite: to increase the activity of; excellent: first class

Perhaps what I really need to recommend to my patients is that they “exorcise” three times a week.”(exorcise: to free of an evil spirit) Exorcise to rid themselves of the evil spirits of excuses, bad attitudes and habits that have become obstacles for their self-care and healing.

The real challenge with exercise is that no one can do it for you. A good coach, therapist, spouse or partner can encourage you, but only you can do it. “Sure,” you may be thinking, “easy for you to say, you don’t have Parkinson’s, you haven’t had a stroke, head and neck cancer,” etc.

I would never underestimate the challenges that some medical diagnosis present, but, I also know what’s possible when desire and commitment meet. I admit to my patient’s that I have some of the same excuses and obstacles that they have, including: “too tired and too busy.” But if you can just create the exercise habit by setting aside the same time every day to walk or bicycle practice your speech or swallowing exercises, or join a class. I guarantee you; will feel better for the effort.

Kill two birds with one stone. This patient uses his Hi-VOLT® bracelet during Physical Therapy for feedback that can help strengthen his voice AND body. Count it loud: “one, two, and three…

Exercise Classes in SW Florida for Persons with Parkinson’s

 We are very lucky here in SW Florida, to have two organizations which provide numerous community-based exercise classes, at no charge, for people with Parkinson’s and related disease diagnosis.

Hope Parkinson Program located in Cape Coral, Florida, has numerous exercise and movement classes. Visit their website to learn more: https://www.hopeparkinson.org/exercise/

Neurochallenge Foundation, based in Sarasota, Florida also hosts numerous support groups and exercises classes, all at no charge, for persons with PD and their care partners. Visit their website to learn more:  https://www.parkinsonsneurochallenge.org/parkinsons-disease-sarasota-education-programs.html

Voice Aerobics® classes and Home-based programs

 Voice Aerobics®, a whole-body voice exercise class was created 20 years ago as an after-therapy program, and it continues to provide benefit to individuals with Parkinson’s disease who want guided, home-based practice.  A recording of the class is available on DVD, or as a download or rental. All of the exercises can be done seated or standing, and because it’s guided, it is well suited for individuals with mild cognitive impairment who might otherwise find it difficult to follow a program. For 20 years, Voice Aerobics® has provided a FUN and AFFORDABLE option for voice practice for people with PD

Join Mary for a 90 minute Voice Aerobics® class, and glide up with an “o”.

If you would like to join a live class, Neurochallenge hosts Voice Aerobics® every 4th Thursday of the month at their North Port, Florida office location. This is a 90 minute class that includes Voice Aerobics® exercise, along with fun, interactive speech and cognitive tasks. The class is free, and open to anyone with Parkinson’s or related diagnosis as well as their care partners.

Visit our website and learn more about products and programs to support voice use, community-based classes, and speech and swallowing therapy available in person or via telepractice.https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/

Voice Aerobics Graduate Student Scholarship

Now Accepting Applications for 2019

 Annually, since May 2012, a check for $500 is awarded to a graduate student in speech-language pathology. This annual gift represents the faith I have in my own business to continue to prosper and in the students, who represent the future of a profession I love so much. To read about prior recipients, or to apply, visit: https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/student-scholarship/

My Mission

To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower.
Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP