Avera Medical Minute: Group Parkinson’s Classes offer exercise and community

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be a frightening one.

The disease affects people in their later years and can impact movement and mobility.

Parkinson’s disease has no cure, but doctors say there is something people can do to slow its progression.

“So exercise and getting your heart rate elevated, getting your body moving is one of the most important things a person with Parkinson’s can do for themselves,” said Dr. Andrew Ridder, a Clinical Neurologist at Avera. “It’s been shown time and time again really no matter what type of exercise it is, the people that are the most active tend to have the least amount of and least fast progression of Parkinson’s disease. So the exercise seems to actually slow the disease progression down.”

Avera offers group Parkinson’s classes. Starting in September, the Avera will offer 13 classes per week.

“We try to have this program very unique in the fact that we try to do yoga, we try to do cardiovascular exercises. We know it’s very important to have a high-intensity workout and so every class is different,” said Avera Health Coach Kaylyn Andersen.

Mary Tidwell was diagnosed with Parkinson’s nearly a decade ago. She was among the first to join the group classes. She says for her, they offer more than just exercise.

“Nobody really understands what it feels like unless you’ve been there,” said Tidwell. “These people all understand when you have a bad morning or a good day or you tremor or you freeze or you’ve done something you’ve never done before and it’s a sign we’re getting down the road, they’re understanding and they’re lifelong friends.”

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