Learn all about the exercise program tailored just for people with Parkinson’s from our friends at Power Wellness Recovery.

We know that people use exercise to improve the size or shape of their bodies. But did you know that fitness can also improve our brains? That is certainly the case for people living with Parkinson’s disease.

Scientific research has proven that exercise counteracts inactivity, motor deterioration and other symptoms of Parkinson’s. When people with PD perform certain physical movements, they boost brain neuroplasticity and improve motor symptoms such as tremors, stiffness and bradykinesia, along with non-motor symptoms like anxiety, apathy and sleeplessness.

Exercise4BrainChange® is not only the slogan, but the principle behind Power Wellness Recovery/PWR!, an Arizona-based Parkinson’s-focused fitness nonprofit founded by neuroscientist Dr. Becky Farley, who has more than 30 years of experience in neurorehabilitation and Parkinson’s clinical research.

After studying bradykinesia in her post-doctoral research, Farley developed an exercise program called LSVT®BIG and completed a National Institutes of Health-funded randomized clinical trial documenting the program’s success.

Farley then went on to start Power Wellness Recovery/PWR! that teaches people with Parkinson’s how to do a series of PWR!Moves based off the LSVT®BIG program that target both motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Power it up with PWR!Moves

The goal behind PWR!Moves is to help people living with PD remain active and independent for longer. Farley’s belief is to “use it or lose it” – meaning reinforce your dopamine circuits or risk the effects of dopamine depletion.

Parkinson’s disease develops in the part of the brain where cells that are supposed to produce dopamine begin to die. Over time, loss of dopamine in the brain leads to tremoring, difficulty walking and other issues with movement. Exercise reinforces dopamine circuits, which can help slows down those symptoms.

There are four PWR!Moves known as the BASIC4 that target four skills shown to interfere with mobility in people with PD. Those four skills are antigravity extension, weight shifting, axial mobility and transitional movements.

The BASIC4 | PWR!Moves are as follows:

• PWR! Up – These moves focus on posture and alignment with the goal to counteract rigidity, reduce falls and take bigger steps.

• PWR! Rock – These moves help with weight shifting, with the intent to improve turns, rolls and widen our base of support.

• PWR! Twist – The focus here is trunk rotation, with the idea that rhythmic repetition of movement can reduce rigidity and improve transitional movement.

• PWR! Step – These moves are all about transitions with the goal to improve balance and movement from one location to another.

The BASIC4 movements are performed in multiple postures, including on the floor, on all fours, in a seated position, and standing. They are meant to be performed with large, exaggerated movements that activate all of the body’s muscle groups, and with great mental focus.

When performed consistently, PWR!Moves can help people with Parkinson’s continue to complete tasks that typically become more challenging as the disease progresses – things like rolling over in bed, fastening your seatbelt, or bending down to tie your shoes.

Join us Jan. 16 for a special PWR!Moves Class

BGF is teaming up with Boomerang Therapy Works in Vancouver, Washington, for a PWR!Moves class. Come try out the Basic4 with us at this fun Parkinson’s-specific exercise class. Participants should be able to stand unsupported and unassisted for this class. Register at www.bgf-boomerang.eventbrite.com.