I’ve been told that research shows that exercise makes a big difference to the lives of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Not just a stroll to the letterbox, but – if you can manage it – exercise that gets you striding out, increasing your heart rate and working your limbs. Recently we went for a walk in the Port Hills here in Christchurch. I have used walking poles for years, but mostly on steep hilly walks with uneven ground. It occurred to me, that as my left arm swing is affected and I usually have to remind myself to swing it, that using my poles would naturally make me use my left arm more without feeling like I had to remind myself to do so. I usually find it quite an effort to remember to swing my arm, but I found in using my poles that my left arm worked much better. They also do give the added bonus of stabilizing, but the main bonus was that I used that arm in conjunction with my ‘good’ arm without having to over think it.
At the beginning of the walk too, I had a ‘hurdle’ to conquer. This was both literally and figuratively! Pre-diagnosis on another walk with my husband we came upon a stile which we had to get over to start the walk. I had so much trouble getting myself over the stile, that I was nearly in tears. My husband actually had to assist me over and that had never happened before in all our years of tramping together. This was at the beginning of the walk and I wondered how I would manage the actual walk! But I did. I knew this wasn’t normal for me and another pointer that something was happening to my body. So, on the walk in the Port Hills, the first thing we came to was a stile. Cue flashback to the other walk and a feeling of doubt started to creep up on me. Would I be able to get over it? Would this affect my ability to even do the walk? After giving myself a talking to, I approached the stile and you know, I got over it with relative ease. We then had a lovely three hour walk in the hills, on a beautiful day with panoramic views, something which I would have missed out on if I had let negative self talk – over a relatively small obstacle – take that away from me. So, I am determined to keep trying, keep challenging myself and keep walking and pushing my limits as much as I can, for as long as I can.