Sandy Hendy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005, at the age of 52. It started off with numbness of the feet until it progressed to tremors and later delayed movement.
Hendy, now 64, of Roseburg, has been an active person all of her life. She has discovered cycling has helped alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s as she learned to accept the disease over time.
“I’ve seen the benefits of biking as it has helped Parkinson’s patients, myself in particular,” said Hendy.
She added that people with Parkinson’s are low in adrenaline and dopamine. However, exercising increases adrenaline, thereby allowing more muscle movement for people who suffer from the disease.
Hendy is a fitness instructor for Pedal Plus, a bike fitness class to help ease symptoms of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.
She started it with the intention of helping people deal with their symptoms in a healthy way. She said that the class “advocates and pushes you to push a little harder and stronger so that when you do leave the class, you feel a whole lot better and your self esteem goes up.”
The class aids in helping people with neurological disorders improve balance, reduce tremors, increase strength and refine motor coordination.
Ralph Patterson, an active member of Pedal Plus for a year, said that cycling has enriched his life in many ways.
“Any kind of exercising with this kind of disease helps you, especially socially.” he said. “You lose a lot of confidence when you have this disease so anything you can do to build your confidence in social settings is important.”
Since suffering from Parkinson’s, Patterson has had to consciously think about each step he has to take. Prior to dealing with the disease, stepping and walking were subconscious movements. After rigorous cycling, he said that it is much easier now to implement muscle movement with less effort.
Pedal Plus classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m. at the YMCA near Stewart Parkway. They are free to anyone who wants to participate. For more information, call 541-430-1286.