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Bikes bring balance

YMCA’s Pedaling for Parkinson’s comes to the Capital District

Pedaling for Parkinson’s participant Tom Stephany goes through program orientation with YMCA instructor Gina LaViolette at the Schenectady branch.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s participant Tom Stephany goes through program orientation with YMCA instructor Gina LaViolette at the Schenectady branch.

— Those interested in joining the program are asked to participate in an individualized orientation with a YMCA trainer. It is also encouraged that a caregiver tag along so they can learn about the class as well. Participants will then learn about the equipment, be fitted with a heart monitor to make sure they maintain the appropriate rate of speed and be told about the class.

Gildersleeve said studies show 80 to 90 revolutions per minute results in the greatest reduction of symptoms. Classes last 60 minutes, with a warm up and cool down period included. An instructor attends all classes in order to make adjustments as necessary,

Burek said the class is also a way for those with Parkinson’s to meet others living in their community who also have the disease.

“We want to create a supportive environment,” said Gildersleeve. “This also means people don’t have to be weather-dependent and go outside to get their exercise. This is something that can be offered year-round.”

For now, the classes are being offered at the Bethlehem, Guilderland, Schenectady, Glenville and Greenbush locations. The program is set to expand to all Capital District YMCA locations later in the year.

Burek said the class offers Parkinson’s patients the same type of good feeling one would would experience after going on a long run, but 10 times better.

According to Gildersleeve, until this program was introduced several years ago there was nothing known to help slow the progression of Parkinson’s but medication and surgery.

“Exercise has been essential to my care and its something I look forward to,” said Burek, who goes to the YMCA six days a week and also delivers mail for the Post Office. “The worst thing you can do is just sit at home and not do anything. My worst days are my days off.”

To learn more, call Bethlehem YMCA’s Mark Thurman at 439-4394 ext. 1440, or Guilderland YMCA’s Harrison Moss at 456-3635 ext. 1140.

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