a friend pulling out their friend from darkness

Let's Go For a Walk

The waning power of the COVID-19 virus combined with the elixir of springtime are good signs for all, especially for us in the Parkinson's community.

The temperatures and completed vaccination series are rising. The COVID threat is lessening. It's time for us to get off the couch and go for a walk (with our friends).

Starting a walking group

For the last few months, our support group leaders have talked about when they would go back to live meetings. It's been a year since we had an in-person support group meeting.

The continued virus crisis is worrisome, and our venue is not opening for some time. Then somebody suggested, let's go for a walk. Perfect. Exercise and socialize.

The walking group invitation went to members of local support groups and exercise classes. We have close friends in those groups, and we hadn't seen each other for over a year.

Zoom has been tremendous, but that great feeling of enthusiastic human contact is missing. Dedicated People with Parkinson's made this happen.

Creating the invitation

The announcement or invitation should include the usual time and place information. It should also contain:

  • Precise directions to meeting place
  • Map of path or trail
  • Description of terrain, such as open and flat, small hills, paved, etc.
  • Restroom availability and places to sit
  • Reminder to bring water
  • If guests are allowed, such as a spouse, care partner, friend, etc.Walking poles- for me a necessity, especially on hills

We indicated masks as optional, although all should have concluded the vaccination series.

What we have learned

Our local groups have had two walks so far this spring and planning a third. There were over 20 for our first walk and 40 plus for our second.

We have learned that the group soon scatters along the trail, but everybody finds somebody going their pace. Be sure to give the walkers a highly detailed description of the trail and share the leader's phone number so the walkers can be in touch. We should probably schedule walks that are more appropriate for those in better shape.

Should you use walking poles?

If you need or use poles or walking sticks, of course, bring them. If you have never used them or are not sure, it might be good to try them. Are you unsteady? They will help with balance and going uphill and downhill. You work more muscles, and they help keep you upright.

Our group leaders provided us with a few sets of Urban Poling Activator poles to try. They are designed for people with Parkinson's.

I learned that I need to keep working on cardio fitness. Mindfulness is essential as I deal with my balance on uneven ground and walking sticks help with rhythm and keeps my left arm moving properly

The old left foot dragging issue is getting worse. My footsteps sound like this: Step, step, scuff. Step, scuff, step scuff (with a "pick up your feet" thrown in). Step, step, step, scuff.

Socializing was the best part

Socializing- the good stuff. The exercise was great, but what turned out to be the best part of the walk was the chance to see old friends for real and not on a tiny screen.

Hearing the nuanced give-and-take of those dealing with similar health issues and the sound of laughter among old friends was comforting.

For many, the walks were the light at the end of the tunnel. We are in the sunlight and let's stay there by using good judgment.

The walks were fun and the walkers asked, "when is the next one?" Due to the participant's enthusiasm, another hike is already scheduled.

I encourage all to regroup and hit the trail. Happy Trails!

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