a woman doing mental exercises for parkinson's

Are You One Silver Lining Away from a Good Day? Try Brain Workouts

Have you done anything for your body today for which it will thank you? Eating and staying hydrated are important, of course, but what about movement? The benefits of physical activity include managing weight, boosting mood, improving sleep, reducing susceptibility to falls, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure for just a few.1,2

Aerobic activities, resistance training and flexibility are all different types of physical exercise. The best workout plan includes some of each type at levels that match and challenge your ability.

Try different sports

Maybe physical activity in the form of a workout does not entice you to move. Sports provide the benefits of physical exercise along with mental and social well-being. Seniors, even those with Parkinson’s disease (PD), can enjoy long-standing sports like tennis, bowling, ping pong, and golf.

They may choose to try something new, too. Pickleball, which started in the 1960s, is currently one of the fastest growing sports in the US. It attracts players of all ages and there is most likely a Pickleball group playing near you.

Brain workouts

Yes, physical exercise is important. Mental exercise is important, too. My favorite brain workouts are word games alone or against the clock. Wordle is currently popular but one of my oldie-goldies is to see how many words I can get by using the letters in one word. For example, "how many 3-letter words can I find using the letters in favorite?" Or, I add a time factor such as "how many words can I find in 1 minute from the letters in surprise?"

Word association games

Word association entertains me, too. Let’s try the word, Parkinson’s. Since it starts with "park," I find myself first thinking of "park your car" and hear it in a Boston accent. That might not be relevant to you, but it makes me smile because I think of my Boston friends.

Then "park" makes me think of things that are parked, immobile, and/or are experiencing inertia. Persons with Parkinson’s report episodes of immobility. Freezing of gait is one such experience, but is not on what I would call the sunny side of PD life.

Moving on, I think of something that is a sunny thought. A park is a place to play, relax, swing, walk and much more. I find relief in those moments whether I am physically in nature or just taking time to relax and play so Parkinson’s does not steal my joy of movement.

This or That

Do you prefer practicing:

Attitude adjustment

What else? It dawns on me that park is in sparkle! The first 2 phrases that sparkle brings to my mind are "let your light shine" and "silver linings."

Parkinson’s presents many barriers, dark moments, and day-to-day struggles. I am not in denial about the progressive degenerative nature of PD over time. But when I think of how I might sparkle, even with Parkinson’s, I feel my spirits lift out of the doldrums and shift to the importance of finding and sharing silver linings.

I appreciate how physical and mental exercise, relaxation, hobbies, and optimism adjust my attitude from "bleh" to "oh, boy!" Pass it on!

My word challenge answers

1. How many three-letter words can be found using the letters in favorite?
I found tie, fit, vie, fie, rat, toe, for, roe, oar, and ore.

2. How many words can be found in one minute using the letters in surprise?
I found sir, sup, sip, uprise, rise, rip, and sis.

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