Health People

Exercise classes to help with Parkinson’s

By Sarah Edwards

At least 12,000 people across Oxfordshire are living with Parkinson’s Disease, and to mark the 200th anniversary of an essay that was written about the condition, two local support groups are launching special exercise classes to help sufferers.
Parkinson’s Oxford branch and Age UK Oxfordshire are working together to provide the classes.
James Parkinson’s Essay on the Shaking Palsy description of Parkinson’s was written 200 years ago, and will be marked on 18 September at the Parkinson’s 200 Plus conference, organised in collaboration with Professor Chrystalina Antoniades and colleagues at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences.
Age UK Oxfordshire will also launch a brand new specialised home exercise DVD: Big Bold and Balance at the conference. Generation Games, the exercise service run by Age UK Oxfordshire, last brought out an extremely popular exercise at home DVD in 2012.
With over 127,000 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is the second most common neurological disorder in the UK. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that can cause slowness, stiffness and a tremor. People with Parkinson’s may experience problems with their balance and therefore be prone to falling.
There is currently no cure available, but there is a mounting body of evidence that targeted exercise can improve both symptoms and quality of life. Sally Bromley, Chair of Parkinson’s UK Oxford branch, said: “Our message is that medicine alone will not sustain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is absolutely imperative for people living with Parkinson’s.”
Age UK Oxfordshire, with funding support from Parkinson’s UK Oxford branch, now runs five Big Bold and Balance classes across the county. The classes are called “Big Bold and Balance” as class participants are taken through big and bold movements to counteract the problem of movements often becoming smaller for people living with Parkinson’s. These exercise sessions can have a really positive impact on stabilising the condition and help to improve mood and general wellbeing.
Class participant, Jesmond Blumenfeld, said: “When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s I took the advice seriously. Attending a class gives a sense of camaraderie. The classes are led by someone who knows what is needed for someone with Parkinson’s disease.”

If you are interested in attending a Big Bold and Balance class or would like a copy of the DVD contact 01235 849403 or

Parkinson’s UK Oxford and District Branch offers information, friendship and support to local people with Parkinson’s, their families and carers. They organise regular events and social activities. Free respite care is available. The branch meets on the first Wednesday each month at Botley Women’s Institute Hall. Contact Pen Keyte, Branch Secretary 01865 556 032.