Upper Hutt Leader
People with Parkinson's disease have been gaining confidence and strength through exercise classes at the YMCA's Upper Hutt Fitness and Sports Centre in Heretaunga.
The centre's manager, Debbie Houston-Tupou, has worked with Parkinson's New Zealand to set up the programme.
"Parkinson's New Zealand had looked for a provider to run the programme for some time. We could see the potential and were delighted to take it on and now we can see the benefits in all of our participants," she says.
Class instructor Lesley Wirihana says she has seen seen a significant increase in the participants' strength and fitness and even more improvement in those who have taken it further and have a personalised gym programme.
Pam Werry, a Parkinson's sufferer, is pleased with the progress she has made through the programme.
"I have had Parkinson's for 30 years. Since joining the YMCA, I have been exercising regularly two to three times weekly; my strength and balance have improved and my walking has improved tremendously.
"Before I joined the programme, I was dependent on my husband Bill; but I have improved so much that Bill has been able to go away for a week's golfing and I was able to look after myself."
The programme has been running since June and has 25 regular participants.
YMCA greater Wellington CEO Simon Jackson says they are so pleased with the programme's success they are looking to expand it throughout the YMCA network.
Parkinson's New Zealand Hutt field officer Jenni Hurn says the benefits of the programme are wide-ranging.
"Participants gain strength, mobility, balance, and confidence. They report that they feel their symptoms are [under] control."
As they progress they become very motivated; many continue their exercise at home between sessions, and begin to take on more challenges.
"The programme provides a social and support forum as well; many participants have said that their emotional well-being has improved dramatically. They even report that they sleep much better."
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition with disabling symptoms including tremors, stiffness and limited mobility.
It affects one in 500 people under the age of 60.
The cause of Parkinson's disease is not completely understood, but it is known that in Parkinson's sufferers, the body stops producing adequate dopamine.
Sessions are Fridays at 11.30am at YMCA Upper Hutt Fitness and Sport Centre, Somme Rd, Heretaunga.
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