An older woman swims the backstroke contentedly in a pool.

Staying Active with Parkinson's at the Pool!

Ever since I can remember, I have had this idea that summer is a great time to be outdoors. However, I’m dead wrong on much of this argument, especially with regards to Parkinson’s. The select days of spring and early fall are actually better in our Parkinson’s too hot, too cold world when it comes to being socially active outdoors.

The local climate

Living here in Pennsylvania, we have two seasons in summer: “wet and hot” and “dry and hot.” This isn’t a good thing for people with Parkinson’s, who have concerns like increased chance of melanoma and hyperhidrosis. In case you haven’t noticed, your “engine” tends to run a little hotter. Additionally, our fingers and toes run a little cold in winter because of temperature regulation. Our own website's advocate, Dr. Maria DeLeon, wrote a great article about these heat issues and solutions. Yes, with Parkinson’s it’s normal to take on an unpleasant scent. Mind you, this is completely different than the smell of Parkinson’s, which this lady discovered.


That said, knowing some good tips and your body’s limits goes a long way if you're able to be active, as does the option of staying in air conditioning. However, since sitting on the sofa doesn’t get our bodies loose and active, we need something that does. For me, this is going to the pool for swimming and aerobics. What’s better, it keeps me cool at the same time!

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The pool

Staying Active with Parkinson's at the Pool

This summer, my wife and I got local pool memberships. At first, I wondered how much we would use it since it felt pricey ($220 for both of us). Compared to the less costly pay by the day, I wondered if we would get nine swimming trips to make it worthwhile. Well, with time to go, we already got enough visits that it worked out. What’s more, the pool has moonlight swims, adults-only swims, and members-only swim times. Thus, we can enjoy our time without being packed in like sardines.

Over time, I’ve come to find myself really enjoying the pool. Nevertheless, I'm not Michael Phelps. I also can’t get 4 ft of air on a dive, but that’s okay. I never could dive, and the teens are fun to watch. Besides, the vicarious thrill and communal happiness of the moment work just fine.

Overcoming problems

Earlier this summer, I found myself moving out of jacked from sciatica Dan. This was a part that Epictetus would have told me I played “well” since it put me on a 2-day staycation in late June. Here’s to using those vacation days as sick days! And here's to knowing long dead philosophers will still speak to some of us!

Getting better all the time

It was slow going at first, but I kept up with the big arm motions in all directions, using the water as resistance to simulated movements I once did, if memory serves me right, at the gym. And guess what? It was fun!

Since I'm moving out of the achy-breaky back guy feeling, I feel more active. It’s a great feeling being able to feel energetic, to be outside, to spend time with my wife, to not feel sweaty nasty, and to get a suntan (that said, SPF30 spray helps protect against 97% of the rays, but no SPF is 100%).

Social time

Swimming/water aerobics is also a great way to be active with others, if you are still able to. Because my wife is 1 of 11 kids, I have a football team of nieces and nephews (and great nieces and nephew) to be active with. For the 4th of July, we had a good time using my waterproof camera to capture memories. All in all, it was a good way to spend the day with family we don’t normally get to see.

Put simply, there’s nothing better for people with Parkinson’s than feeling social and active in their own skins. We spend so much time worried about our bradykinesia, gait, balance issues, tremors, Parkinson’s mask, word fishing, medication-induced rashes, and other issues that sometimes, it’s just good to say “enough” and just enjoy life. Living life full-on active may not be what it was when we were 21 and indestructible, but it can still be fun.

And exercise can help with the bradykinesia, balance, gait, and tremors!

Never fear; good times are here

Besides, why worry about what the uncool people think. It’s been my experience that even though most people who see our symptoms might not understand our plight’s specifics, they still empathize and are friendly on a human level.

So why worry? Just get active and lose that rigidity!

What’s more, doing that with other people can make this more satisfying since we’ll increase the abilities of our brain “muscle.” But that’s not the only way we can boost our brain power (while still understanding the issues of our socialization issues). The pool offers other opportunities while being active such as increased heart rate and melting away stress. Chances are, they also have summer music playing, so depending on the age of the lifeguards, you can get Jimmy Buffett (who should only be played live, where he's 10 times better) or Lil’ Nas X (for the youngens) to jam out to.

While there, you may see this all too chubby guy with a farmer’s tan trying to learn how to dive. This might even give you a good laugh. It turns out that appreciating life's humor is good for Parkinson’s, too, so laugh away!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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