Championing sport in Parkinson’s community

Global update

Author: Saskia MairPublished: 12 November 2020

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Exercise has a huge range of benefits for people living with Parkinson’s – and could even slow the progression of the condition. We find out how Sport Parkinson’s is aiming to make exercise programmes more accessible and inclusive for the community

A new sports initiative is aiming to help make exercise programmes more accessible and inclusive for the UK Parkinson’s community.

The team at Sport Parkinson’s, which launched its website last week, is planning to help facilitate exercise for people with the condition, support sports clubs and raise money for charities.

Charlie Appleyard, captain of the UK Parkinson’s football team and one of the founders of the initiative, described the motivation for setting up Sport Parkinson’s: “Co-founders Garen Williams, Matt Dimbylow and I all took part in the European Parkinson’s football championship last year and we saw significant benefits for the whole team, including ourselves,” he explained.

“These included physical fitness, mental health improvements, happiness, the sense of being part of a team and achieving a goal. We thought that if we could help improve the lives of one football team, imagine if we could improve the wellbeing and symptoms of the whole Parkinson’s disease community?”

The initiative will encourage exercise in a range of ways. Its dedicated website will act as a network where people with Parkinson’s, carers, exercise clubs and sports professionals can connect; its grants programme will help fund sessions and equipment for those with the condition; and its upcoming events will help raise money for UK charities Parkinson’s UK and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

“We’re here to champion the role of sport and activity within Parkinson’s community,” said Appleyard, “to make a Parkinson’s society where physical activities are the norm, powered by thriving groups and clubs across the country.”

Charlie Appleyard and the rest of the football team at the Ray Kennedy Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2019.

Making exercise more inclusive

Researchers have suggested that regular exercise can have a range of benefits for people with Parkinson’s – from better balance, to improved brain function.

And, Appleyard says, staying active is crucial for people living with the condition during the coronavirus pandemic: “Exercise is especially important during the UK lockdown as we are moving around less and are stuck indoors, sometimes with negative thoughts and apathy. Getting up and doing exercise is key to blowing the cobwebs away.

“Our motto is ‘keep healthy and strong ‘til a cure comes along!’ We are here to revolutionise the access and inclusivity of exercise programmes, while having fun, building relationships and raising money for the amazing causes that support us.”

Find out more about Sport Parkinson’s.

Exercise and Parkinson’s

Research indicates that exercise can be neuroprotective – meaning it can slow down the progression of Parkinson’s. It can also provide physiological benefits

  • Ask for professional medical advice to find activities that suit your fitness and mobility level
  • Include a mixture of stretching, strengthening, weight bearing and balance exercises, alongside aerobic activity
  • Make sure you warm up first, and don’t try to do too much too quickly
  • Try to stay motivated and have fun! 

Read more about exercise and Parkinson’s here.

Read more:

Watch: 13 people with Parkinson’s on the impact of exercise

Parkinson’s Europe ExerciseCast: How to stay active during the coronavirus crisis

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