My client, who has both Parkinson’s and MCI, hired me for my expertise in both. Having recently completed my Brain Health Certification and learning the latest research, we put the new knowledge to use!
Using the effects of exercise and physical activity as a guide, I created a challenge for my client by manipulating variables. The key to programming for each client is to determine their most pressing issue first.
As we age, cognitive changes can include:
Attention (audible and visual cues)
Processing Speed (reaction time)
Executive Function (planning, organizing, impulse control)
When you combine a cognitive challenge with a physical challenge, the benefits are magnified far beyond those conferred from doing either one alone. Therefore, by participating in Brain Health training, you maximize both neurological and functional benefits.
Being challenged is key – but not to the point of being frustrated (conversely, we don’t want the client to be bored with the drill, either).
Above is a video of part of our session.
A few things to look for here:
- He should be moving with a bigger range of motion (taking larger steps toward the cones). Big movements offset the “smallness” of Parkinson’s.
- Having 3 variables in this drill was a little too challenging for him this session. The next time, we took away the dumbbells and just had him take a break when the color was on the screen, which gave him more of a sense of mastery.
- Someone with MCI can present differently each week. The same with Parkinson’s. Being able to switch out exercises and make them either more difficult or easier depending is a necessary skill to look for in a trainer.
- Learning new skills and having new experiences are one key to cognitive health.
- Moderate exercise, 30 minutes 5 days a week, is another key to brain health. Getting your heartrate up increases blood flow to the brain (the brain is the most difficult organ to increase blood flow).
- A multi-modal exercise plan is still best, including aerobic, strength training, motor/coordination training and cognitive-physical training.