Diana Drawbridge will be introducing a weekly session for people with neurological conditions, specifically for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. However, the sessions will also be open for individuals who have long or short term mobility conditions.
Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain that controls movement. It results in aching, stiffness and rigidity, in both muscles and joints. Walking with small shuffling steps is common as is tiredness and depression.
As all of us Nordic walkers know, Nordic walking mobilises the whole body. This helps to ease stiff and sore joints and strengthens muscles. It also focuses on being active with your feet, standing tall and moving with good posture. All of which helps to lengthen stride and strengthen the abdominal core – which makes walking easier. As an aerobic exercises, it releases endorphins helping you to feel better. The icing on the cake is that we walk outside, in a beautiful part of Bristol, with great company and a lot of laughter!
I was interested to read The Parkinson’s Disease Society’s booklet Keeping Moving: Exercise and Parkinson’s. Below is direct extract. You would be forgiven if you thought it was a description of Nordic walking:
“The purpose of these exercises is primarily to work on your posture and balance by improving the connection between your mind and your body when you move. The emphasis is on rotational movements (as used in activities such as turning in bed, looking around, walking etc) and on keeping your posture erect during activities so that you are better balanced when you move.”
Well, well. We all know that Nordic working works your arms, legs, waist and butt, but did you know it also exercises your brain?!
Research suggests that the unilateral squeezing of your left and right hand stimulates brain activity in the opposite hemisphere of your brain. This can improve memory, memory recall and creativity.
The participants in the studies were asked to squeeze a ball. With Nordic walking you squeeze and release the pole handle, but the basic principle is the same.
The research complements empirical evidence that Nordic walking can greatly assist people with neurological conditions, such as strokes and Parkinsons disease. More needs to be done to explore the links and benefits in this field.
Of course squeezing and releasing the pole handle has other health benefits. It helps improve circulation – I particularly enjoy the fact that I no longer get numb fingers in winter – and is a great alternative to a stress ball.
So next time you’re out Nordic walking remember (I’m sure you will) the benefits of active hands!
Watch this space for the Activator/Rehab sessions which will be starting shortly.