The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reduce Stress to Increase Other Treatments

Reduce Stress to Increase Other Treatments
We attended the Northwest Parkinson Foundation’s HOPE Conference in Spokane on August 25th. We were disappointed that the speaker from Arizona, Dr. Santiago, wasn’t there after all to talk about the non-motor aspects of PD. Still, it was a good conference and we came away with lots of things to think about and consider. Dr. Monique Giroux spoke on Mindfulness and Healing. Expect to see blogs about subjects she brought up in the future like the value of positive thinking or yoga. Do go to her Wellness Center  and learn more about these and other non-drug methods for controlling your PD (or LBD). It is a limited resource at present but she promises that it will grow. Dr. Ford spoke on the importance music and exercise and had us all up dancing.

Dr. Giroux emphasized that exercise is important, but she said, we need to lower our stress for it to be very effective and supported what she said with impressive research results. Dr. Ford followed that up by showing us how we can use music combined with exercise that we enjoy to lower stress levels—and increase functionality, at least temporarily.

This made a big impression on me later as we were walking to our car, after having spent a lot of energy dancing to Dr. Ford’s music. I’m not used to exercising that much and I should have been tired, but I wasn’t. I’d been having fun and my stress levels were down. We’d parked what turned out to be a very, very long way from the meeting room and normally, by half of the way back, even without the extra exercise, my arthritis would have been at full blast and I’d have been hanging on to Jim, dragging after him, and wearily putting one foot in front of the other with my whole focus simply on making it to the car where I could sit down and recover. Instead, I found myself walking happily along beside him, my arthritis forgotten and with enough energy to be able to chat about what we’d just been doing and what our plans were for later.

And so, I thought, this “better exercise without stress” formula works for any issue—PD, arthritis, LBD, etc. It’s like a physical law: Reduce stress if you expect other aspects of your treatment to work. That goes for drugs too, I’ll bet—or good nutrition or adequate sleep. What do you think? Do you have any experiences like mine involving decreased stress?

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