Spring 2016 marked year two of Step by Step, a 12-week walking program aimed at encouraging those with Parkinson's disease to increase their average daily steps. Through their participation, physical fitness and stamina are improved, assisting in combatting the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). Participants meet weekly for a group walk, and are urged to continue with a regular exercise regime following the completion of the program.
Carsten Nachtigahl was diagnosed with Parkinson's 13 years ago, and first started to increase his physical activity thanks to ParkinGo Wellness Society — a Society that offers community exercise programs in Sidney & Victoria, BC. At about the same time, he began to participate in Parkinson Society British Columbia's (PSBC's) Step by Step program. As part of the Saanich Peninsula walking group, he has demonstrated grit and immense improvement.
Step by Step group leader, Brian Wood, recalls that at the beginning of the program, Carsten would sometimes struggle to complete the weekly walk on a paved trail. "He eventually brought some walking poles and we started walking on trails in forested areas where there are changes in elevation. Although he was tired at the end of each walk, he managed them on his own and with no assistance from me," Brian writes.
Carsten has known his fellow walkers over two years now – they have become his friends and sources of encouragement. He explains, "we always have coffee after our regular walk at the nearest coffee shop. Sometimes, we have chips and gravy. It is a small but important reward." The rewards and group dynamics help motivate Carsten to continue to walk. He notes that while exercise does not completely alleviate his symptoms, it does help him build strength and allow him to manage his daily activities. "I encourage anyone with PD to exercise as it is a reason to get out of the house and live a normal life, without letting Parkinson's interfere with that."
Would you like to participate in Step by Step next year or start a walking program in your community? For more information about Parkinson Society British Columbia's exercise programs, please refer to our website or contact Caroline Wiggins, Education & Support Services Coordinator, at 1.800.668.3330.