Over the last few years of owning a busy private practice, I have found it harder to find the time and energy to make it to the gym, so this year I purchased a Total Gym, adding it to my exercise regimen, which includes a morning bike ride. I’m hoping that having a piece of equipment that provides a comprehensive work-out without leaving the house will help me get back into a routine.

Of course, equipment is only part of the solution, and to truly maintain an exercise program, we also need to create a habit and set some goals we’d like to achieve.

No doubt every person with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease has been told or has read that exercise is one of the most important things available for neuroprotection.

Even after a course of speech or physical therapy, which is after-all, a  form of exercise, patients are advised to continue to practice on their own.  But, when speaking to patients at support groups and conferences, I often hear  patients say that they stopped doing their speech and voice exercises, offering up reasons that include: “ too busy, too tired, too boring, too many doctor appointments or other commitments. “

When you look at the literature about exercise in the general population, some estimates say that nearly 2/3 of adults in the US set fitness goals as a part of their New Year’s resolution, and yet 73% give up before meeting their goals.

Time and difficulty following an exercise program are among the top reasons why people give up. 

Motivation, planning and social support are keys to success.

Below are some suggestions that may help you maintain the improvements you made during speech therapy and stay motivated to practice.

  • If available, join a weekly speech class, such as Voice Aerobics®, The LOUD Crowd®, or LOUD for Life. A weekly speech class of guided practice can help re-enforce the principles learned during treatment, and provide a great venue for peer support and motivation. A group setting also provides an opportunity to focus on some of the cognitive-linguistic aspects of communiction, such as word retrieval, speed of language processing, and thought formulation, all areas that can be problematic for people with Parkinson’s disease

 

  • Utilize a home-based guided program. Just as my Total gym came packaged with an instructional DVD, you might benefit from using a DVD or app that can help you practice without having to remember specific instructions. The Voice Aerobics® DVD, LSVT® Homework Helper, and Speak Up for Parkinson app, are all guided programs that can be used without ever leaving your home. If you live in a rural area without speech services available, or transporation is an obstacle to attending classes, you might consider telepractice or online coaching. Anyone with computer access can take advantage of telepractice to participate in a formal speech therapy program.

 

  • Enlist the help of a friend. If you attend a local Parkinson’s support group, ask around if there is someone who would like to get together once a week and complete some speech and voice practice. None of us does any activity for very long if we don’t enjoy it, so, find a class, a program, or product, that appeals to you, that helps you reach your speech goals, and have fun!

                                 Loud Crowd members warm-up using the Voice Aerobics DVD

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