Members of the Daniel Rowing Center in action

Story and photos by Ofer Paz

An important new initiative at Daniel Rowing Center in Tel Aviv gets rave reviews from medical experts.

Parkinson's disease affects movement. Exercise can help maintain strong muscles and improve flexibility and mobility. Furthermore, it has been proven that exercise improves brain health. Researchers claim that exercise may help Parkinson's patients maintain mobility and allow them more control over their health. Therefore, some researchers believe that pushing people with Parkinson's to perform strenuous exercise is the key to improving their situation.

Coping with Parkinson's disease through physical activity yields a number of benefits.

There is indirect evidence that physical training also has a protective effect against the development of Parkinson's disease. An American study, which included more than 200,000 healthy people, examined the relationship between physical activity and the likelihood of developing Parkinson's disease years later. It was found that exercise, when defined as medium or high, was associated with a 40% reduced risk of developing the disease.

In general, it is vital that exercise for Parkinson's patients focuses on topics such as improving capacity and challenging the positions of static balance and motion, movement initiation capability improvement and improving motion timing. It is also recommended to emphasize rotational movements of the body.

Paddling, as part of the overall training program, contributes to muscle strength, balance and coordination. This has led to the institution of the Park Paddlers program, using Dragon Boats at the Daniel Rowing Center. The operation of the Dragon Boat can ideally be integrated with recommended workout procedures given by the medical team. The paddling action is performed together with external cues - evidentiary (the paddler in front of you) and auditory ( the drum rhythm). It includes both long and large movements (big LSVT), as well as strengthening of the core muscles simply by sitting in the boat.

The groups, currently 20 participants – and growing - meet once a week for a 1.5 hour training session.

The Park Paddlers program is coordinated by Ofer Paz, a certified Dragon Boats instructor, a Wingate Institute certified rowing instructor, and a final year physiotherapy student at Tel Aviv University.  The program received great acclaim from senior doctors and the hospitals’ motion therapy clinics.

Professor Jorge Mogilner, one of the participants, said.

“I first came to the Daniel Rowing Center a year ago, and the weekly boat training quickly became part of my normal routine,”. We established a group of people, like an exclusive club, led by very high level instructors who care and support us non-stop. I feel the improvement from week to week."

To join the program, or to try it free, please call the Daniel Rowing Center 03-699-0484 ext 0

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