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Persevering through Parkinson's

Exercise, the best medicine

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), a personal trainer and team leader for Auckland Council Pools and Leisure, trains clients with Parkinson's on a weekly basis.

Solving the Parkinson's puzzle

Stacey trains 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 sitting down on a chair, he found getting up really hard. His leg would freeze. Even with walking, he used to shuffle; now he walks a lot more."

Overcoming everyday challenges

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

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

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

Life-changing results

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.”

The power of positivity

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!"

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Story by Mare Haimona-Riki, reproduced with the permission of Te Ao Māori News, Māori Television. View the original story (includes 2:44 video).