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Do you know what Alan Alda, Muhammad Ali and Pope John Paul II have in common? If Michael J. Fox’s name is added to that list, would you have answered that they all were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD)?

While they are among the most recognizable names associated with the disease, nearly 1 million people are living with PD in the United States. The symptoms of this neurodegenerative disorder develop slowly; they can include tremors, slowness of movement and limb rigidity as well as gait and balance problems. Although there is no cure, there are various treatment options that range from medications to surgery.

The Center for Fitness and Health (CFH), which is located in the Monongahela Valley Hospital HealthPlex in Rostraver Township, is the only fitness facility in Washington, Westmoreland and Fayette counties to offer the proven Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery Program also known as PWR!Moves®. The evidence-based program is a PD-specific skill training program designed to maintain or restore skills that deteriorate and interfere with everyday movements. It suggests that exercise and learning approaches that consist of strengthening exercises and skill acquisition may protect vulnerable neurons, repair damaged circuits and optimize function in people with PD.

Aaron Horrell, a fitness professional at the Center for Fitness and Health is a certified PWR!Moves instructor. “The program’s vision is ‘Exercise as Medicine.’ It is designed to help people manage their Parkinson’s,” he said. “Participants learn how to use four foundational PWR!Moves exercises to address symptoms that interfere with their everyday movement.”

The Basic 4 PWR!Moves are building blocks for movement and are performed with high effort, exaggerated movements and attention to action in multiple positions. The Basic 4 PWR! Moves include PWR! Up, PWR! Rock, PWR! Twist and PWR! Step. The moves are:

  • Performed slowly, rhythmically and with sustained effort.
  • Performed as big and fast as possible with repetitive high effort.
  • Linked together into gradually longer sequences that mimic everyday movement and improve overall function in life.
  • Combined with secondary motor and cognitive tasks to create real world environmental context.

“We offer group classes and individualized sessions in which we create an environment that embraces empowerment, motivation, social enrichment and fun,” Horrell added.

The Center for Fitness and Health’s PWR!Moves program is a one-hour program two days each week. CFH members can participate in the class free-of-charge as part of their membership. The fee for non-members is $10/session. People with PD who are referred by a doctor to the PWR!Moves program who wish to join the CFH will have their initiation fee waived. A prescription is not required to attend the first class.

For more information, contact Aaron Horrell at the Center for Fitness and Health at 724-379-5100.




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