Taking a vacation from Parkinson's? Read this first.


You're going on vacation?? How wonderful!

What a perfect time to relax, enjoy some downtime, unwind... and completely fall off the Parkinson's Warrior wagon.

While we all need to get away and recharge, sometimes coming back to reality and facing the fact we haven't exercised in days (or weeks..) can feel incredibly defeating. At worst, if you notice a resurgence in your Parkinson's symptoms, it can feel like a profound setback.

Exploring the world, spending time with loved ones, and having those special moments is what life's all about. You should be able to prioritize and enjoy them, despite your Parkinson's diagnosis... right?

Do you ever feel that way...?

... like you should be able to just live your life and forget about anything related to Parkinson's for a few days?

... like you're tired of scheduling your life around your Parkinson's symptoms?

I get it. I really do.

You absolutely have the ability to make that decision - to exercise or not - every day. Just understand that choices have consequences. If you're willing to accept the consequences of taking a few weeks off, that is your decision to make. You always have the ability to choose. 

On the other hand, I know how negatively that choice can impact your symptoms and your long-term health. So, I want to challenge you to re-wire how you see exercising while on vacation: Instead of looking at working out as an inconvenienceunderstand that it's actually an investment in your future. 

Exercise is simply a tool you use to keep you strong, balanced, and mobile enough to enjoy those beautiful moments in life. 

In order to reap the benefits of exercise, you need to stay consistent, and this includes during time spent on the road. Even a few missed days of exercise can snowball into weeks, or even months, of inactivity which do not bode well for your Parkinson's symptoms (or future vacations, for that matter). 

Below are 4 ways you can build exercise - your Parkinson's Warrior weapon of choice - into your travel plans without disrupting or overshadowing your vacation time:

#1. Put Yourself First

Do you stop taking your medication while you're on vacation? I doubt it. In the same vein, you should prioritize exercising like it's your best medicine.  Don't be embarrassed about excusing yourself from a quiet moment (possibly when everyone's watching TV) to go do a 10-minute circuit or pole walk around the block. Look at exercise as your badge of honor and wear it with pride. You are a Parkinson's Warrior and exercise is your weapon of choice. 

The best way to make sure you don't miss a workout is to schedule it in ahead of time. If you can, get it out of the way first thing in the morning so you can play and enjoy the rest of your day without feeling guilty.

Need help getting moving? Join Sarah's FREE 30-Day Parkinson's Movement Challenge to get worksheets, resources, and motivation.


#2. Involve Your Family

Instead of trying to figure out how to sneak away from your family, invite them to join you during your workout! Plan a family walk or hike. Try a fitness class at a nearby gym with your kids. Start up a game of tag with your grandkids. You can even do your PWR! Moves or BIG exercises with them - they're a great workout for anyone!

#3.  Cut it Short

If you're looking to get the most bang for your workout buck, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A HIIT workout typically consists of doing short bursts of exercise for 30-60 seconds at a very challenging pace with a 30-60 second rest break, for 8-10 rounds. 

You can use this interval training approach to put together a 20 minute workout while you're traveling. Some activities that make for good intervals: 

  • Walking Regular Pace (1 minute) + Walking Fast Pace (2 minutes)
  • Biking Regular Pace (1 minute) + Biking Fast Pace (1 minute)
  • Use the Basic 5 Pole Exercises (here) - Do each exercise for 1 minute at high-intensity with 1 minute rest between each exercise. Do each exercise 2-3 times. 
  • Bodyweight Exercise (1 minute) + 30 seconds rest + Walking Fast Pace (2 minutes) - Repeat 5-6 times. 

#4. Get Powerful & Creative

If all else fails and you absolutely can't separate workout time from vacation, it's time to turn your everyday tasks into BIG, POWERFUL movements. This is much easier than it sounds. 

General rules:

  • Stretch your joints as far as you feel comfortable: fingers, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, and tippy toes. 
  • Stand up as tall as possible.
  • Pop out of chairs with gusto.
  • Walk at a quick, powerful pace across the room taking high, long steps.

You can apply these rules to almost anything you do during the day. By taking a moment to focus on being big and powerful, you re-connect your body with your brain. It's not as potent as getting a longer, more focused workout in, but at least you're still keeping your brain challenged in small ways throughout the day.

I'd love to hear from you! 

Do you have your own strategies to stay on task while traveling? Share them in the comments section below! 

Watch & Listen: 

Sarah discussed this topic on a Facebook LIVE event on the Invigorate PT and Wellness Facebook page. Click "play" to watch & listen: