BETHLEHEM For Mark Burek, one of the hardest things about being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was accepting he had it.
The founder of Parkinson’s Albany was diagnosed in 2008 and called it an “eye-opener.” He said he fell into a slight depression, until he made a choice.
“You either choose to live with it or let it dictate your everyday life,” he said.
Burek’s disease takes a toll on his body every day and it slowly is getting harder to do even simple tasks, like tie his shoes. One of the few things that help him feel normal is exercise.
“The exercise portion is very important, even though (Parkinson’s) affects different people in different ways ... the exercise stimulates the muscles and keeps you going,” he said.
Burek is now partnering with the Capital District YMCA to bring a new program to local residents suffering from Parkinson’s. In early July, several area locations launched the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program. The initiative is based on a study performed at the Cleveland Clinic that indicated a 35 percent reduction in Parkinson’s symptoms by pedaling a bicycle at a rapid pace. The program had been adopted at other YMCAs across the country, and was introduced in the Capital District by Burek.
“(We) want to offer programs to help individuals get active, and for those with disabilities we want to help them reclaim their health and quality of life,” said Capital District YMCA Director of Healthy Living Nancy Gildersleeve. “We have a diabetes prevention program we offer in all branches and this is a natural fit to have another course that helps our clients.”
The program is designed for those ages 30 to 75 who have been diagnosed with Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. Each class is free for Y members, but costs $5 for others, and a signed waiver is required.