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Unofficial Wampum Report
Only fairly recently did we receive our 501c status from the IRS (see support section on this site). Since then, I’m pleased to announce that we have received several individual contributions (donations) and one from UA3 (a non-profit, charitable organization). The latest is a generous contribution of 150 dollars from a very gracious couple from Long Island, who have a personal interest in Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
The American College of Sports and Medicine is a well-respected, venerable international organization (established in 1954) which, among other things, provides exercise guidelines to promote health and fitness. Their recommendations are trusted, well founded and research-based. (Note: A Parkinson’s Disease research unit, the Oregon Health and Science University, cites them.)
The ACSM recommends 4 principle exercise groups: cardiorespiratory (aerobic would fall into this), resistance exercise, flexibility exercise and neuromotor. These are all obviously important in achieving and maintaining good health and a high quality of life, but the latter – the neuromotor exercise category – has some extra relevance for PD. These would pertain to motor skills including balance, agility, coordination and gait. Tai chi and yoga are mentioned as types of exercises to utilize in promoting these skill sets. We already use a few warm-up exercises that are derived from yoga. Maybe we should adopt some more. And maybe we should explore tai chi and see what we can harvest there.
Finally, as an aside, the ACSM says this: “Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try … a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.” Okay, since the ACSM is the gold standard, let’s have everybody take a warm bath about 15 minutes before we meet at 7:30 next Wednesday. Bring your own tub … I guess. ART/Lao Du
Post when you’ll be at WTTC
Hi – Some of you have requested a way to post your availability so you can meet up to play at the club. Please try out this spot and let me know if it works for us.
Often, as I enter the premises of the WTTC (the ‘club’) in the late afternoon, I often see this two thousand plus-rated ping pong player deep in the throes of an intense pre-activity warm-up. “Intense” doesn’t really adequately describe what’s happening. I mean this guy is jumpin’ up and down and running circles around the ping pong tables, all the while flailing and whirling his arms furiously. A regular whirling dervish, he looks like he just might launch himself into the stratosphere and beyond (which would be fine with me, because I’d move up in the club ratings). Now here’s the question: Is this guy a genuine doofus, or is there something to this weirdness? And what about our own pre-ping pong exercises? Are they important?
Well, I don’t want to sound indecisive and give you a wishy-washy answer, but the information available on this subject is itself ambivalent. For example, Web MD (I guess that’s a trusted site) notes that you’re not going to hurt yourself if you don’t stretch before a workout. But there are other ‘experts’ who claim just the opposite. There does seem to be some consensus of opinion, however, relating to so-called ‘dynamic’ warm-up exercising. This is a pre-exercise in which active movements closely simulate or model your actual physical activity to come. For example, if one were to run a mile, he or she might start the pre-warm-up with a slow jog. There is general agreement that this ‘dynamic’ type of exercise can prevent injuries and improve performance, as well. (Note: some people would not consider this form of warm-up as bona fide “stretching” in the formal sense.)
Now back to our own Parkinson’s exercises. They are important for us – not necessarily to produce ping pong champions – but in order to maintain flexibility and balance and to keep muscles limber (use it or lose it). Stretching for Parkinson’s patients can also help reduce back and neck pain (more common in PD patients than the general population).
So, the take-home is: We’ll continue our warm-up preliminaries and we’ll endeavor to adapt new exercises customized for Pongers. Lao Du
More On Exercise (forgive me)
The truth about exercise is that it can be difficult , especially if you’re not in good physical shape to begin with. I think we’ve all encountered this reality at some time in our lives. You know what I mean: Our muscles hurt when they’re used more strenuously than we’re accustomed. But the difficulty with a workout does not just involve the usual pain and physical discomfort. It’s simply undeniable that physical training can be tedious and monotonous, too. (Ever try running around a track? … more than once?) The bugaboo here is “BORING.”
So, what can we do about it? Make it fun, that’s what. If it aint fun, forget it. No one, even if it’s a requisite form of therapy (Parkinson’s), will hang on and persevere if it isn’t interesting and fun. I say, thank you Ping Pong, thank you juggling, thank you dancing (etc.) – because these pursuits are fun and they provide us with our vital and indispensable exercise. (Apologies for our semi-boring warm-up exercises, but these are probably helpful to stretch a little before getting on with the ‘fun’ activities.) Lao Du
At the last session of Ping Pong Parkinson, we talked about the need for aerobic exercises and criticized our own module for not making our hearts pump faster with ping pong alone. We also mentioned a 2017 JAMA published (Journal of the American Medical Association) study funded by the National Institute of Health and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation which dealt with exercise and Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The study used the acronym SPARX – Study in Parkinson Disease Exercise – and it’s worth repeating and emphasizing the results of this high standard study which stated, in effect, that doing vigorous exercise delays the onset of Parkinsonian symptoms. Also of significance was another conclusion drawn – that low intensity work-outs had little or no effects relating to progression of symptoms.
The take home from SPARX should be twofold: 1) awareness of the need to do vigorous exercising and, 2) the need to implement such in our 75 minute sessions. Fred’s robot did supply the intensity required, so we should try to revive the use of that freakish-looking antique. We’re also currently debating the use of a punching bag. Lao Du
“Fitness for the body and mind” is the motto that greets you as you enter the friendly confines of one of my favorite places – the Westchester Table Tennis Club. This catchy phrase is globally true for all who participate in playing Ping Pong, but it has special significance for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
The “Body” aspect of the slogan – the motor symptoms, including stiffness, tremor, balance problems and slowness of movement – are elements that have been the focus of most of the research to date. But we would be remiss if we neglected to bring up the non-motor symptoms, as well. Constipation, difficulty sleeping, difficulty in thinking (this is the “mind” part), as well as mood and anxiety are other significant problems that can benefit from a rigorous exercise program. The research supports these principles.
Relating to this, I would like to add one additional point – and this is especially directed to the volunteers of Ping Pong Parkinson. When we are instructing Parkinson “Pongers,” we should keep in mind that instructions should be focused and uncomplicated, because PD patients may (not all) have difficulty in processing and multitasking. For example, reminders to focus on hitting with topspin can be helpful, but we should endeavor to concentrate on one element at a time. Lao Du
I was watching the national news on television the other day and suddenly I saw Alan Alda juggling (a 3 ball cascade). What the heck was that all about, I said to myself, as I leaned closer to the TV to catch the story. Turns out, Alan Alda was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about 3 and a half years ago, but has just revealed it to the public. The juggling part of the story was related to his exercise program, which he summarized as “Keep moving.” Other activities of his in keeping with this advice were boxing, tennis and – get this – marching to march music (John Philip Sousa).
NBC news followed up the Alda news by interviewing a neurologist from the Cleveland Clinic, who attested to the high value of exercise for Parkinson’s Disease (something we’ve been emphasizing).
I also saw a report centering around dance and music. They focused on such a group for PD patients in Brooklyn (Marc Morris Dance Center).
So, maybe we can all profit from this latest unfortunate news involving Alan Alda. You know those exercises with swinging arms and high stepping that Nenad does during the exercise part of our module? Maybe we should do it accompanied with music (you know, for a minute or two). And, although we can’t have the formal boxing program that is encompassed in Rock Steady Boxing, maybe we should purchase one of those pop up Joe Palooka bags that I had as a kid (didn’t help me too much; I only beat up a few kids in second grade who were breathing on my Devil Dogs). Lao Du
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