Time to walk

There probably won’t be many who would disagree with the statement that ‘exercise is good for you’. But it has to be the right sort of exercise. Whilst some may thrive on marching ten thousand steps a day or a rigorous gym session, other individuals may find that more gentle pursuits will suit them better.

In fact, just as we are all individuals, the type of exercise which we take should also be individual to us. What my body needs in order to optimise health and cardiac strength may well be completely different to what you need. So much so that what benefits you might actually harm me and vice versa.

That individuality also extends to the exercise strategies we adopt when recovering from an injury or when affected by a disease. There may be a standard suite of recommendations, but some will work better than others. But how will you know what suits you best if you aren’t aware of the alternatives? That was the challenge which researchers set out to meet when they looked at the walking strategies adopted by those with Parkinson’s disease.

There are seven recommended coping strategies to help those with Parkinson’s remain mobile. These include walking to the sound of a metronome, motor imagery in which individuals copy another individual’s walking pattern, and adopting relaxation techniques. The researchers found that whilst 35% of those surveyed admitted that walking difficulties affected their daily lives, just 4% were aware of all of the recommended coping strategies with 17% never having heard of any of the strategies.

This lack of awareness of the options can be particularly problematic as some strategies work better than others in different settings. For example, the movements’ visualisation strategy saw an 83% success rate when used outdoors but this fell to 55% when used in confined spaces. This led researchers to conclude that “The choice of compensation strategies for gait impairment in PD should be tailored to the individual patient, as well as to the context in which the strategy needs to be applied.”

However, the researchers also stressed that that choice should be based on an individual first being aware of all of the options. Now that’s a strategy which works well in so many areas of life. Yes there is a danger of becoming bogged down in the detail, but approached in the right way that danger can be avoided as people and businesses benefit from being able to make the right choice for them from a position of strength in knowing what options are available.

For example, with winter coming up and the continuing uncertainties of covid, health businesses may be concerned about enabling existing and potential clients to contact them. Knowing that options are available which could help to maintain a high level of professional patient contact could ease concerns. These options include the use of online booking services or the ability to switch phone calls as required to a virtual assistant service. Knowing and flexibly deploying options could help businesses not only to maintain a good service but also potentially to improve service levels, enabling them in turn to improve the lives of their clients. Time to walk? Maybe with the right mix of services it could even be time to run!