FREE Parkinson’s exercise classes offered for those in need

Good Day Dakota

Roughly 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease every year. There is no cure for the disease and treatment can get expensive.

Medications for Parkinson’s alone average around $2,500 a year and therapy and surgery can cost up to $100,000 dollars per person.

The Bismarck YMCA is holding FREE classes for not only YMCA members but anyone in the community that suffers from Parkinson’s.

“Exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for Parkinson’s,” says Bismarck YMCA Fitness Program Coordinator, McKaela Larson. 
 
Since January of 2015, The Bismarck YMCA offers exercise classes for those dealing with the disease because of the high need.
 
“This was kind of an original creation of a lot of groups that came together seeing that there was those with Parkinson’s who wanted to be involved in a continuing fitness program. And we are blessed to be funded by the United Way and have a lot of other outside support to make this free for anyone,” says Larson. 
 
She adds that Parkinson’s is more common in our area. 
 
“The prevalence of Parkinson’s Disease in the midwest and the northeast can be 2 to 10 times higher than in the western and southern regions of the US.”
 
They offer basic core movement exercises, and even more specific ones like cycling, tai chi, water aerobics and much more. Larson says this doesn’t replace your typical Parkinson’s Therapy but definitely makes a difference.
 
 “It’s non-stop. They can make it a lifestyle change that can show amazing benefits after they go through the usual pathway. And this is something they can keep doing to slow progression.”
 
For regular Mark Robsahm, he says the class has made it a little bit easier to live with Parkinson’s after getting diagnosed in 2017. 
 
“You know the other people and seeing how optimistic they are. We have an 82-year-old with Parkinson’s that still goes hunting and fishing and I find that encouraging,” says Robsahm.
 
He says he has seen a definite improvement in his body and that the exercises keep him on his feet.
 
“Oh tired and ready for a nap but it’s awfully good for me.”
 
The program is offered to people at all stages of Parkinson’s and says they have seen a steady influx of participants.
 
“The earlier you get involved the better. Getting them into an exercise routine program ASAP because not only does it slow the progression of the disease, we can increase the quality of life, we can lower the mortality rate. You can do more with less,” says Larson. 
 
“Just get in there and do it. It’s worth it. You can improve and it’s not as bad as it used to be. So far mine doesn’t seem to be getting worse,” Robsahm adds.
 
Larson says her main goal is to keep it free for as long as possible and add even more classes. This is currently only offered at the Bismarck YMCA.
 
This currently only offered at the Bismarck YMCA and for more information, click here. 

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