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Tom’s Story

Tom Harmon

After I was informed that exercise is beneficial to a person who has ‘acquired’ Parkinson’s Disease, I set out to find an exercise program that would be appropriate for me. Consideration needed to be given to the availability of the program so that could be incorporated into my routine involving other weekly commitments.

Parkinson’s Yoga and *PD Warriors (*Parkinson’s Disease) which applied neuro physiology principles, are exercise programs design to meet the needs of those with varying degrees of this condition. So, I started both of these on a weekly basis.

I also decided to do Qigong bi-weekly. This is an ancient Chinese exercise technique involving meditation, controlled breathing and movement.

A subsequent diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia required me to re-evaluate what I was doing regarding exercise. I wanted to continue the programs I was currently doing and found out they were both beneficial for dementia, so, that was ‘great’.

I realised with this diagnosis, a different type exercise was necessary. I needed to continue with my physical activities which now also included handwriting. I had to practice writing letters/numbers. It is vital to be able to read what I have written!

I needed to undertake things which would also help me cognitively, ie brain stimulation. So, I commenced doing quizzes, crosswords and Sudoku each day. A friend challenges me to regularly read books, then we ‘analyse’ them. We also have agreed to e-mail each other in French, requiring me to interpret the messages and respond in French, which is a new language for me. Socialisation and having a sense of connection with other people is very important for those with dementia. I needed to review my exercise program and do something different.

I am now a participant in the Live life Active program.

I am presently doing cross-training and boxing twice a week for each program.

The instructors and other participants have been very inclusive and welcoming and I enjoy socialising with them.

I also participate in the social events which occurs after the classes.

Over the last year I have also commenced playing table tennis each week, a new sport for me. This is helping me with my balance as well as being a cognitively and socially stimulating activity. With the encouragement from the other players, my table tennis skills have improved. I feel that my participation in regular exercise has improved my overall health.

As a person with dementia, it has also enabled me to mix socially with many different people and has given me a sense of ‘connectiveness’. Through exercise, I have benefited not only physically, but cognitively and socially. It is now an important part of my daily life.

– Tom Harmon


Read Murray and Robin’s story  |  Read Angi and Michael’s story

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