Research has shown exercise is the best medicine. It can offset age related cellular damage, improve cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and general mobility. Essentially slowing the aging process.


How aging affects the average body:

  • Our skeletal muscles have decreased aerobic capacity due to circulatory changes.

  • We lose about 40% of our muscle mass by age 80 due to a variety of factors including inflammatory stress, physical inactivity, and changes in our hormone levels.

  • With the decreased muscular output, any comorbidities increases the risk for frailty dramatically.

Why does this happen?

Our cells are exposed to damaging effects of inflammation and oxidative stress throughout our lives. This damage (along with other environmental and genetic factors) influences how your body loses muscle mass and bone density, gains fat, and metabolism changes.


Do YOU want to age like the “average” person?


Thankfully, we can change one of the most influential causes of cellular stress and aging.


What is that cause? It's our typically sedentary lifestyle! Regular physical activity helps counteract this and has been shown to be excellent in helping people "age successfully", that is, maintenance of functional independence as long as possible.


How Exercise Helps:


  • Regular aerobic exercise (brisk walking) has been shown to improve aerobic capacity and endurance. It also is known to decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, and even decrease pain!

  • Resistance exercise may be even more powerful! Resistance training (using weights, bands, or even body weight resistance) is an excellent way to improve muscle mass at all stages of life, even the frail elderly! Increasing leg strength is a major factor in decreasing risk for falls and maintaining independent mobility.

  • Physical exercise is also vital for preventing and slowing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This is because it helps regulate the oxidative stress, helps build new neural connections, and helps remove toxic buildup in the brain.

  • Exercise also works at a cellular level to protect your DNA, maintain protein homeostasis to allow appropriate enzyme function, improve hormone levels and insulin sensitivity.


So How can I get Started?

The best place to start is by working toward meeting the national guidelines for physical activity in aging adults. These guidelines recommend:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week

  • Perform resistance training of most of the major muscle groups 2 days/week

  • Balance and flexibility exercises 3 days/week

If you currently don’t exercise, these recommendations seem like a lot, but some exercise is always better than none, and as little as 10 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week can start you on the right track.


What if I need help?

If you have specific mobility concerns, are fearful of falling, have pain with activity, or just want some personalized guidance, we can help! Send us an email at movefreeptnc@gmail.com or give us a call at 919-886-4163 to chat with our Physical Therapist, Dr. Tomkoski. We’d love to help you start on your journey toward successful aging!


Resources:

Exercise Attenuates the Major Hallmarks of Aging - PMC (nih.gov)

Physical Activity and Function in Older Age: It’s Never too Late to Start! (acsm.org)

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Updated: Aug 9




Exciting News! Our Brand-New Group Exercise Class is just around the corner!


You probably have heard that exercise is essential with Parkinson's Disease, but sometimes it's hard to know what to do.


Our class, taught by our very own Dr. Jessica, PT will use evidence-based techniques such as high intensity, large amplitude training to work on maintaining and improving your balance, strength, and functional mobility.


Are you interested? Fill out the form at this link, and we will be in touch.


Here are the details:


  • Where : Fit Lab Studios Durham, 2500 Meridian Parkway, Suite 180, Durham, NC 27713

  • When : Thursdays at 2PM

  • How much: Classes are $120 for the 4 week session, or $20/class at a drop in rate.

  • How to sign up: Fill out the interest form at this link, and Dr. Jessica will be in touch to get you registered.

  • More information: Check out this webpage with more information


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We’ll be talking about a less than polite topic in this article; however, it is one that affects over 80% of people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). We will discuss Constipation. What it is, why it’s a problem, and how to manage it. Let's get started!


What is Constipation?


Constipation is a condition of slow-moving bowels. If you are having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week, or are straining to go, you are likely constipated. Ideally, you should be having at least one formed bowel movement a day.


Why is Constipation so common in PD?


Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder of the automatic processes of the body. This causes improper functioning of the autonomic nervous system which regulates smooth muscle activity. The muscles lining your entire GI tract are smooth muscles, can improper function of these can cause disruptions in peristalsis.


Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction of smooth muscle that allows for food to move through the digestive tract. When this process is not working correctly, the movement of food/waste products in the intestinal tract becomes slower.


Also, many of the medications needed to treat Parkinson’s Disease can cause constipation as a side effect.


Finally, lifestyle factors that can cause constipation include:

1. Dehydration

2. Low fiber consumption

3. Decreased exercise

4. A change in routine or Stress

5. Consuming large quantities of dairy

6. Fighting the urge to have a BM until a more opportune time


Why is Constipation a problem?

You probably know, the timing of your medication cycle is very important to managing your PD symptoms. Did you know that the beneficial compounds in the pills you take are absorbed through your intestine into the bloodstream before they become active?


As your bowels move more slowly or become backed up due to constipation, the pills’ effectiveness decreases, and you may not receive the full benefit of the dose at the right time.

Other concerns with constipation include bloating, feeling uneasy and a desire to avoid exercise. With prolonged constipation, hemorrhoids or even bowel obstruction can occur. In bad cases, bowel obstruction can result in hospitalization.


Okay, so how do I prevent Constipation?

For a Happy Gut, here's a few helpful tips:

  1. Consume enough fiber. The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of Fiber daily. Fiber helps to hold water and bulk up the stool making it much easier to pass. The best way to eat enough fiber is by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes (like beans), and whole grain bread or cereal. You can also add prune juice, dried fruits, or bran to your diet to achieve your fiber needs. You’ll probably have some gas as you increase your fiber consumption, but this will improve with time.

  2. Drink 6-8 cups of water and other fluids a day. Try drinking a tall glass of water with your medication doses, this will help flush the medication to the intestines where it can be absorbed, and if you do this with each dose, you’ll easily be able to achieve this goal.

  3. Perform Vigorous exercise daily. Not only will this help your gut, but it will help you stay healthy and can slow the progression of PD symptoms.

  4. Use the bathroom when you feel the urge.


What if I’m already constipated?

Along with the prevention techniques listed above, here are some other things you can do to help move things along.

1. Abdominal Massage: Take 10 minutes and give your belly a massage. With small circular movements starting down by your right hipbone, move upward toward your ribs, across to the left side, and down to your left hip bone. Research has shown this may stimulate peristalsis and lower the pain and discomfort that often occur with constipation.



2. Get a Squatty Potty! This 7-inch stepstool tucks under your toilet before and after you go (allowing you to safely get your feet to the floor to stand up). But when you’re ready to go, you put your feet on the stepstool to put your body into a more natural position which lets gravity do the work, allowing you to strain less.

3. Listen to your body. When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, honor this and go to the toilet. It may not always be at the same time, and you may not always be home, but resisting the urge can cause more stool to backup and become harder to pass later.


Want to learn more? Check out our References and Resources:

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