Living with Parkinsons made easier through exercise

updated By Mare Haimona-Riki

With more than 10,000 people currently diagnosed with Parkinson's in Aotearoa; prevention could be as simple as consistent exercise. Stacey Koia (Ngāti Tuwharetoa) who is a personal trainer and team leader for Auckland Council, trains clients with Parkinson's on a weekly basis.

Today she trained Allan Elliot, who has been living with Parkinson's for over 40 years now. The Manurewa based trainer has already seen developments from their exercise program. 

"He's done really well. When he came into the gym and met me, even his expression, you don't really get much expression out of their face, he just came in looking like he doesn't really wanna be there.

"Even when he's sitting down on the chair, he found getting up really hard. His leg would freeze, and even with walking, he used to shuffle now he walks a lot more."

Because of the uncontrollable shaking in his hands, and legs, Elliot finds everyday tasks, difficult. 

"Mostly working with my hands, sometimes I feel like my hands are just bobbed on the end of my arm," Elliot says.

Stacey Koia trains Allan Elliot who has been living with Parkinson's for over 40 years. Source / File

Parkinson's is the second most common neurological condition in New Zealand and is diagnosed only through observance of symptoms.

'Exercise NZ' CEO Richard Beddie says the results of these programs are evident.

"We've had some real life-changing experiences, and that's really where the power of this comes in.

"People who were wheelchair-bound with Parkinson's are now standing again, I'm not promising anything but people really do change their lives because they move better, and they're able to continue their lives in a more normal fashion.”

Although the number of people living with Parkinson's is projected to double by 2035, Allan Elliot remains positive.

"You just gotta keep rocking on mate!"