Walk tall naturally with purpose

Living Well with Parkinson’s Walking for Exercise Programme

This Parkinson’s UK (PUK) funded programme started on 1 March 2024 and it will run for at least one year. The PUK grant will enable a minimum of10 suitable candidates accompanied by a carer/supporter, if wanted, to take part in the programme in one of two ways dependent on the outcome of a Taster/Assessment Session:

Taster/Assessment Session (free of charge) → Learning to ‘Trek’ Sessions (£10 per session up to a maximum of 6 one hour sessions) → Regular Group Treks (£10 per person for up to 6 Treks).

This pathway is for individuals, whose walking is too limited for Nordic walking, but who would still benefit from walking-based exercise. Poles will be used for trekking, i.e. holding poles with elbows bent at a right angle and placing them on the ground upright in front of the body ideally at the same time as the opposite heel lands in order to walk further safely.

Trekking has the potential to strengthen skeletal muscles and, therefore, improve:

  • posture by addressing stoop and scuffing
  • balance by addressing core stability
  • gait by addressing stride length and maintaining a gap in between the feet
  • confidence by addressing the risk of tripping and any anxiety about falling.

However, only very limited resistance exercise using the upper body will be achievable.

Up to six one hour one-on-one, subsidised sessions will be available for the participant to learn how best to use poles for the trekking movement: the number of sessions is flexible in order to be as responsive as possible to individual needs and to ensure value for money when using the grant. Poles will be provided. There will then be the opportunity to participate in up to six subsidised Group Treks. To aid sustained participation at this point, poles will be available to buy at a subsidised price.

NORDIC WALKING PATHWAY - Stanmer Park, Brighton BN1 9QA
Taster/Assessment Session (free of charge) → Nordic Walking Course (£60 per person for a group beginner course of four 1.5 hour sessions) → Regular Group Nordic Walks (£10 per person for up to 6 Nordic Walks)

This pathway is for more mobile individuals able to rotate the trunk in order to push back through the poles with one or both arms held long.

On top of the benefits listed above, Nordic walking also has the potential to combine aerobic with fuller resistance exercise to benefit the whole body.

In order to learn how to Nordic walk, participants will be able to join a group beginner course either only for people living with Parkinson’s or one with people living with other long-term conditions. Poles will be provided. There will then be the opportunity to participate in up to six subsidised Group Walks. To aid sustained participation at this point, poles will be available to buy at a subsidised price. Participants, who work during the week, will be able to join an existing Nordic walking group that meets on Saturday mornings. If there is demand for it, a weekday Group Nordic Walk will be set up, too.

Nordic walking sessions will take place in Stanmer Park, Brighton. Trekking sessions for those with more limited mobility will mostly take place in Hove Park, Hove, where several benches can be found on the tarmac trail around the park. Participants will all gain the benefits of being physically active outside in nature.

Both Hove Park and Stanmer Park are accessible and easy to drive to, both being situated just off the A27 on the northern and northeastern boundaries of Brighton, respectively. This hopefully makes locations within relatively easy reach for people living up to 30 miles away. Thirty miles would usually take up to about an hour to drive. This means that this programme should be accessible to most potential beneficiaries living within a boundary starting at Bognor Regis to the west along the coast up to Horsham and Crawley then East Grinstead right around through the High Weald and back down to Hastings to the east along the coast.

If travelling by car, free parking for up to three hours is available on Goldstone Crescent on the eastern side of Hove Park. In Stanmer Park, all parking is pay & display via the paybyphone app only.

All sessions will be run by an experienced, accredited and insured Nordic walking instructor.

Taster/Assessment Sessions
The taster/assessment session will be used to assess the person’s mobility, fitness, gait, balance and coordination so that the individual then follows the most appropriate pathway. Poles will be provided.

Sustainability and Added Value
To build in some sustainability and added value, the Group Treks and the Group Nordic Walks will only go ahead IF two or more places are booked. Any grant money saved in doing this will then be kept in a pot to be used to provide:

  • either, more Group Treks & Nordic Walks
  • or, extra one-on-one sessions for individuals, if required.

This programme is tailored to meet individual needs with the purpose of (a) enabling some people living with Parkinson’s to take up a physical activity, in the first place, as well as of (b) enabling others, already physically active, to be more so. The opportunity to join a regular group often provides more motivation to participate and can be a source of social support.

To make this more likely in both the above categories, further support will also be available in these ways:

  • should the individual wish it, being accompanied by a ‘supporter’, i.e. a relative, carer or friend, throughout the programme
  • with the individual’s permission, liaison on an ‘as and when’ required basis between the instructor and the Specialist Nurse and/or Neurophysiotherapist
  • the opportunity for participants to receive further support and training to become a Group Trek or Group Nordic Walk leader.

If you’d like to discuss this further, contact Peter.

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