YMCA’s Parkinson Movement Program Empowers Healthy Living
This article is republished with the permission of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta and first appeared in its 2015 Annual Report.
At the Y, we strive to empower people in all life-stages and abilities to have the know-how and resources to improve their health, well-being and social connectedness.
Individuals living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are faced with challenges on many levels, often experiencing physical changes including movement-related symptoms, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. There are 13,000 people in Metro Atlanta living with PD. In partnership with PD Gladiators, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta offers a program of Parkinson’s-specific exercise classes and support that helps people with PD design a personal exercise program that is effective, enjoyable and sustainable.
Brian Doyle is a member of the Summit Family YMCA and a former Major League Baseball player. In his rookie year with the New York Yankees, he batted .438 in the 1978 World Series to help carry the Yankees to victory. Brian also has Parkinson’s disease, but thanks to the Y, he’s not letting that define him.
Through Parkinson’s Movement Classes at the Y, Brian has been able to regain a great deal of mobility and confidence since his diagnosis. “In the Parkinson’s Movement Class, we walk backwards, we do the tango – a lot of dancing – and it helps with rhythm and movement. So getting my strength back, my quality of life back, has been a big, big part of being at the Y,” said Brian. Last summer, he was able to jog out onto the field at Yankees Old-Timers’ Day, less than a year after his diagnosis.
Parkinson’s Movement Classes focus on cardiovascular fitness, balance, strength and flexibility. Instructors are trained to work with Parkinson’s-specific impairments, and the class environment allows participants to connect with others who face the same challenges, creating a community of empowerment. The sense of community at the Y is important, Brian explained, “We encourage one another, and when we leave the Y our spirits are sky-high.”
For more information about Parkinson’s Movement Classes and other wellness programs designed to empower healthy living, visit us online at ymcaatlanta.org.
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