How the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is improving health and providing community support through its Pedaling for Parkinson’s program.
Riding an indoor, stationary bicycle has been shown to reduce Parkinson’s motor symptoms by 35%. This stat is a reason the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is one of the 150 facilities across the country that offers a Pedaling for Parkinson’s program.
COVID-19 temporarily halted the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program at the Greater Monmouth Y. However, once the pandemic began to ease, Val Cottone, the regional group exercise director for the Y, recommended reintroducing the program to support those battling Parkinson’s — many who experienced extensive isolation during the health crisis.
“There is not a ‘typical day’ when working with anyone who has an illness, especially one who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, but our team of four trained Pedaling for Parkinson’s instructors plan ahead for a great class,” said Cottone. “They arrive to the Y before the participants to set up. They adjust the audio equipment for the music they will play, wipe down the stationary bikes with a disinfectant and arrange the bikes so members can ride in a safe manner.”
When each patient with Parkinson’s disease comes to class, Cottone explained they are shown how the bike is used and how calibrations are made for the individual rider based upon their height, arm and leg length. Each class starts with a full assessment of the individual’s strength and steadiness. Staff members capture updates to the patient’s health, physical strength and homelife. Each class is 60 minutes long and is offered at the Y’s three wellness centers in Old Bridge, Freehold and Red Bank, New Jersey.
“The program has many benefits,” added Cottone. “It helps improve the participants’ leg strength and stability, along with helping to reduce falls, improve gait, reduce depression and even slow the progression of the disease. Exercise also improves mental health and helps reduce stress, which is common among people with Parkinson’s disease.”
Studies by Pedaling for Parkinson’s founder Dr. Jay Alberts, a neuroscientist and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, and others have shown participants riding three days a week for 60 minutes over eight weeks have seen improvement in their Parkinson’s-related symptoms by as much as 35%. With nearly 4 million Americans having Parkinson’s the Y is happy to play a role in improving lives in their community.
“Our community benefits from all our friends and loved ones who can live a happier, healthier and more engaging life by participating in this supportive program,” said Cottone. “It’s also another way the Y supports the health and well-being of all people in our community. We are proud to bring healthy living within reach of community members who otherwise might not have access to this kind of program, which is free to all participants.”
Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County. (Left to right) Pedaling for Parkinson’s participant Susan Kinslow, instructor Judy Saydah, participant Wisbeling (Willy) Rodriguez, Y instructor Tom McGrath and participant Leo Kinslow.