The South Tampa Family YMCA (4411 S. Himes Ave. (813-839-0210) has begun a cycling program  specially designed for Parkinson’s patients.

It utilizes stationary bikes in a spinning program designed to provide vigorous exercise to combat Parkinson’s symptoms and progression. It is free for the first eight-week session. After that, people with Silver Sneakers cards can continue the program at no cost. Others will pay $40 for six sessions.
The pedaling program is the latest of several new Parkinson-specific exercise programs announced or open in the Tampa bay area. I will describe the Y program in some detail and reference the other programs that I’ve written about previously. This should be a good list for New Year’s resolutions.
According to the YMCA brochure: “The Pedaling For Parkinson’s program uses high-cadence cycling (80 to 90 rpm) to forestall the progression of the disease, alleviate many symptoms and even reduce medication.
“Results vary due to the broad range of Parkinson’s symptoms, but it is clear that extended periods of forceful exercise have positive effects. For Parkinson’s patients, these can include reduction of tremors and dyskinesia, as well as cardiovascular benefits, increased leg strength, and better balance and core strength.
“Pedaling a bicycle may change the life of someone with Parkinson’s disease. Research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic showed a 35% reduction in symptoms by the simple act of pedaling a bicycle at a rapid pace — optimally, 80-90 revolutions per minute. Fast pedaling is not a cure of Parkinson’s disease and should not be touted as such, but there is compelling evidence to show that it does make a real difference for many who try it.
“A medical provider consent and clearance form is required to register. The form must be completed and signed by your neurologist or primary care physician.
“Your provider can complete the form and fax it to the South Tampa Family YMCA at
 813 831 2354, attention: Pedaling For Parkinson’s.”
asks you to complete this form, detach from the brochure and return to the Welcome Center at the South Tampa Family YMCA.

Name ______________________________________________________________________________
Birthdate: _______/_______/_______

Age: ________________________________________

Are you a current YMCA member? Yes No

Address: ______________________________________________________________________ City: _______________________ State: _____ ZIP: __________________________________ Phone: _____________________________________________________________________ Email: _____________________________________________________________________ How did you hear about the program? __________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________


Name: _____________________________________________________________________________

Phone: ____________________________________________________________________________

Relationship: ____________________________________________________________________

 Name: _____________________________________________________________________________
Phone: ____________________________________________________________________________
Current medications: _________________________________________________________

Other health concerns we should know: ________________________________

The LSVT Big Program

A second, existing program I have not mentioned before is the LSVT Big program. It is available by prescription from your neurologist and is offered at Florida Hospital Tampa.

According to the program’s brochure: “LSVT big is a research-based, exercise approach developed from principles of the effective Parkinson’s specific speech treatment LSVT Loud. The LSVT programs have been developed and scientifically researched over the past 20 years with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Research on LSVT Big has documented and improved ratings on tests of motor functioning in people with PD following treatment.

“Improvements include: faster walking with bigger steps, improved balance, and an increase trunk rotation. LSVT treatment consists of: 16 sessions: 4 consecutive days a week for four weeks. Individual one-hour sessions. Daily homework practice daily carryover exercises.”

For more information contact Florida Hospital, 3102 E. 138th Ave. Tampa, phone number 813-615-7253. The LSVT website is WWW. LSVT global.com.

Beginning in January the Jewish community center/ National Parkinson’s Foundation exercise program begins three days a week’ read more about it at this post.

The Rock Steady Boxing program is available in Largo. A second location next year will be at the Cypress Palms senior living facility in Largo. It is breaking ground on a new gym that is being built specifically for the program.

Leah Einboden, the program’s facilitator, said she’s hoping construction will be completed in January, and she already has more than 40 people signed up.





Some aspects of Parkinson’s disease are not popular conversation topics in the PD community. They are the shadow issues too delicate to cast light on routinely. Think cognitive loss and dying.

The Parkinson’s disease Foundation called my attention to a new study of cognitive loss in PD. University of Pennsylvania researchers followed 141 PD patients who had normal cognition at the beginning of the study. They found that 47.4% of the patients progressed to what’s called mild cognitive impairment after six years. MCI is a loss of some thinking, memory, language and judgment capacity.

The real attention getter in this study is that every participant who was diagnosed with MCI during the study progressed to dementia within five years. Hope is what drives us in our struggle with PD. But we can’t let that necessary hope blind us to the reality of significant cognitive dangers down the road.


I came across a provocative essay that appeared in the New York Review of Books this year. Marcia Angell, the former executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, wrote it. It was a long review of a moving book that I have read but not commented on in this blog.

When I read the book, it sparked my interest in the palliative care movement. The reason was Gawande powerfully documents through individual case studies how very often medicine ill serves patients at the end of life. Where comfort measures are called for, intense, costly, ultimately futile rescue efforts are often inflicted on patients who would prefer prefer otherwise. Both the book and the essay are worth your attention. Book details:
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande
Metropolitan, 282 pp., $26.00


Nicotine occupies a strange role in Parkinson’s. My interest as a cigar smoker is large in this issue. For some unknown reason nicotine appears to protect against PD onset and might even slow the progress of the disease. The prospect that a known carcinogen might just be helpful in PD it is almost laughable. The review article on the subject is provocative.


I’m entering my third week of the exercise program Rock Steady Boxing, which I have described an earlier blog post. I continue to be very impressed with the able physical therapists and the results I am experiencing.
Over the last two weeks I’ve experienced only one PD “down” day. You know, those blah days when it feels like you have the flu. Before the boxing program, I was experiencing those bad days about one day in five. Rock steady is available only in Largo in the Bay Area at present. That makes for a long Drive for Hillsborough PD patients, especially in rush hour. Program Director Tara Schwartz tells me she hopes to have a second program located either in or much closer to Hillsborough County by the end of 2016. That’s very good news indeed.

Palliative Care, Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's exercise, Research, Uncategorized


The scientific journal Neurology has editorially endorsed computerized training as a way to slow or prevent cognitive decline in Parkinson’s. The endorsement is somewhat tentative but definitely a boost for Brain Hq-like computer training: “…… cognitive training is modestly effective for improving cognitive function in people with PD.” The editorial concludes: “Given that PD is more than just a movement disorder, cognitive training may be an important option for improving cognitive function in patients with PD.” USF’s School of Aging Studies has a computerized cognitive study underway of PD and is seeking volunteers. The principal investigator is Dr. Jerri Edwards. For more information call USF’s Cognitive Aging Lab at 813-974-6703.

Tampa JCC Wellness Program Launches Jan. 23

The Shuffling Editor has gotten more information on the Tampa Jewish Community Center/USF Health wellness program for Parkinson’s. Exercise classes begin Jan. 26, run for 12 weeks and cost $120.

Tuesdays from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM is Nia, a new term to me. Wikipedia describes Nia thusly: “Nia dance cardio fitness classes are taught by instructors licensed in the Nia Technique. Each class includes mindful movement guidance and somatic education; class cycles include warm-up, sustained non-impact aerobic conditioning, strength training, cool down and stretching. Nia Fitness classes are taught to music, including pop, electronica, jazz, Latin, New Age, Indian and hip hop. They employ 52 basic movements and techniques that draw on a combination of Jazz, Modern and Duncan Dance styles, Tai Chi, TaeKwonDo and Aikido; and the body mind healing arts of Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique and Yoga.”
Thursdays, same hours is chair-based strengthening.
Fridays from 1:30 PM to 2:3 0 PM is Tai Chi.
The Caregiver Support Group begins Jan. 29. It is free and runs for12 weeks on Fridays from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM. A community event is scheduled Jan. 23, 7-9 PM. The topic is Keep Moving Tampa! For background and contact information see my earlier post: https://shufflingeditor.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/tampa-gets-grant-for-parkinson-wellness-program/

Rock Steady Boxing and Me

I am into the second week ( 3x times a week) of this slightly misnamed program. Of a 90 minute training session, no more than 30 minutes is devoted to punching hanging and big bags. The remaining 60 minutes is spent in floor, strengthening exercises, weight training and Balance exercises such as skipping, sidestepping, butt kicks, monster steps and backwards walking.

Two early observations of the program: I had not realized how degraded my hand-eye coordination had become. That sure explains why my golf swing left me. Second observation. I end sessions more energized than tired. Whether coincidence or not, I have not had a “bad” PD day since starting the program. Bad days are when you feel like you have the flu. I am accustomed to having them one day in five.

Huffington Post had a recent piece on the program: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-j-doll-phd/rock-steady-boxing-for-people-with-parkinsons-symptoms—-a-national-perspective_b_8646972.html
The Largo program has no plans for a move into Hillsborough. But I have talked to a person who is seeking to put a franchise location in Channelside.


My friend Kirk Hall has updated his information guide for those new to PD. It is pure gold and is a byproduct of the national research project on palliative care in PD. http://www.shakypawsgrampa.com/index.php/new-blog/entry/parkinson-s-education-resources-1-years-since-diagnosis


None of us likes to think our journey will end with dementia. In upwards of 50% of PD cases it does. The financial impact of dementia can be devastating. Money magazine has a helpful review of available options at Money.com/dementia.

Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's exercise

I’m Boxing Against My Parkinson’s

I now have boxing gloves. Red ones.

I have signed on to a rigorous exercise program called Rock Steady Boxing. It is offered in Largo, FL at Bodyssey gym on Walsingham Road not far from the beach.

For now, the Largo location is the only one in the Tampa Bay area. That’s a 70-minute haul from our Hillsborough manse, in the best of traffic conditions. If the franchise program is as good as its press and promise, I bet it will soon jump the bay into Tampa.

Rock Steady has received a great deal of positive, anecdotal notice lately on CBS TV, local TV and in the Tampa Bay Newspapers (TBN) weekly group. From my two visits, I think the Rock Steadiers are on to something very promising.

TBN reporter Chris George got there before I did. Gym owner Tara Schwartz pitched program benefits this way to George: “ The studies have shown that forced intense exercise has slowed the progression of Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s slows the conduction of the nerve to the muscle, so everything slows down. Boxing does the absolute opposite of that. And it’s a non-contact form of boxing.”

Good elevator speech, Tara. I watched one day. Signed up and worked out the next. Ninety intense minutes to pulsating music and demanding, disciplined but supportive instructors: “elbows up…jab, jab, hook…chest out, stomach in…just 10 more seconds.”

By coincidence, I just ran across this article about intense exercise and how it relieves Parkinson’s symptoms. It talks about yoga but the principles also apply to boxing.

Schwartz’s class typically has 12 to 15 participants who work out ideally at least three days a week. Said Schwartz: “While focusing on overall fitness, strength training, reaction time and balance, workouts include: ring work, focus mitts, heavy bags, speed bags, double ended bags, jump rope, core work, calisthenics and circuit weight training. No boxing experience is necessary and people of all ages are invited to participate.” For more details, check out her website, including fees.

The session I attended ran 90 minutes and had 30 minutes of stretching exercises, 30 minutes of weight training and 30 minutes of working on the punching bags. I intend to give you periodic updates on my progress and impression of the program as I go forward.

One follow up to the palliative care conference in Denver follows: