“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