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Exercise - both physical and mental - is good for everyone, including people with Parkinson's! Check out the classes and other opportunities we offer in collaboration with a wide range of providers such as Age UK and English National Ballet.

Opportunities for exercise, therapy and learning

CLASSES HAVE RESTARTED Autumn/Winter 2019 exercise class dates
Our subsidised Big Bold and Balance exercise classes, and Friday singing classes, run only during school terms. The autumn/winter term in 2019 began on Tuesday 3rd September. There are no classes in the half-term week 28th October to 1st November, and the last classes of the year are on 19th December. Times and locations of all the classes can be found further down this page by clicking here.
Exercise guidance from Parkinson's UK

Exercise guidance from Parkinson's UK

MoveMe - physio-led exercise classes

NEWMoveMe - physio-led exercise classes

Dance for Parkinson's (ballet class)

Dance for Parkinson's (ballet class)

Exercise and physiotherapy

Exercise and physiotherapy

Voice and singing classes

Voice and singing classes

Intensive physiotherapy in Italy

Intensive physiotherapy in Italy

Mindfulness for people with Parkinson's

Mindfulness for people with Parkinson's

Fighting Fit exercise programme

Exercise in Abingdon with live music

Exercise in Abingdon with live music

Exercise guidance from Parkinson's UK

The most important message from Parkinson's UK is:
exercise is good for PwP - get out there and do as much as you can!

Our national body Parkinson's UK has recently updated its guidelines on exercise for people with Parkinson's (PwP).

There's a clear and informative web page for PwP, with animations and a video.

You may also find it interesting to look at their 2-page framework document, which is aimed at health professionals but is easy to understand.

Dance for Parkinson’s

For many of our members, a highlight of the week is their participation in the Dance for Parkinson's classes supported by Oxford City Council and led by a team from English National Ballet.

The classes have featured on BBC national news. They also appear in the wonderful half-hour documentary Parkinson's: The Funny Side, devised and presented by Branch member Paul Mayhew-Archer, which is permanently available on BBC iPlayer at this link.

Two short videos (one minute each) created for English National Ballet and starring Oxford Branch members are available here and here. There is also a 7-minute video describing the project in more depth.

If you are interested in joining the classes, please visit Oxford City Council's information page.

Exercise classes and physiotherapy

Recent research has shown that exercise seems to protect the dopamine producing nerve cells that are lost in Parkinson's, helping them work better and survive for longer.

Subsidised local classes: Big, Bold and Balance

CLASSES HAVE RESTARTED Autumn/Winter 2019 exercise class dates
Big Bold and Balance classes run only during school terms. The autumn/winter term in 2019 began on Tuesday 3rd September. There are no classes in the half-term week 28th October to 1st November, and the last classes of the year are on 19th December.

These classes run during Oxfordshire school term times. The current Autumn term ends on 19th December. Half-term break begins on 26th October and term resumes on 4th November. Spring term 2020 starts on 6th January and ends on 3rd April.

Big, Bold and Balance is a physiotherapy programme designed for people with Parkinson’s and delivered by Age UK’s Generation Games service. Weekly classes run at several venues around Oxfordshire. A subsidy from Oxford Branch means that we can offer these classes for a suggested donation of only £3 per session.

To confirm exact dates please check the Generation Games brochure, view our online calendar, or contact us.

In this 1-minute video, physiotherapist Jo Preston shares her enthusiasm for the Big Bold and Balance project and you can get an idea of what to expect.

CHANGE OF VENUE The Tuesday classes formerly held in Minster Lovell now take place at Bradwell Village Hall, Burford as shown in the table.

Town Time Venue
Abingdon Tuesday, 9.45am-10.45am Preston Road Community Centre, OX14 5NR (map)
Burford Tuesday, 11.30am-12.30pm Bradwell Village Hall, OX18 4XB (map)
Didcot Wednesday, 10.30am-11.30am All Saints Community Hall, OX11 7ER (map)
Banbury Thursday, 12pm-1pm Methodist Church Hall, OX16 5BZ (map)
Bicester Thursday, 1.30pm-2.30pm Kingsmere Community Centre, OX26 1EG (map)
Oxford Friday, 10.30am-11.30am
Followed by a voice class
at 11.45am-12.45pm
Botley WI Hall, OX2 0LT (map)

Physiotherapy in Italy

Several of our members have attended the one-week intensive course at the European Parkinson Therapy Centre in northern Italy, with encouraging results. To find more you can visit the Centre's own website, and read the reports in our Autumn 2016 newsletter and Autumn 2018 newsletter by Branch members who have attended courses there.

The Branch can now offer grants for up to 20 people to attend, making it more affordable. This report, from two of our Committee members who did a course at the centre in 2015, includes details of how to apply for a grant using the application form which you can download here. Please feel free to discuss it with the Chair or Treasurer (details on our committee page) before making any arrangements.

Voice classes

CLASSES HAVE RESTARTED Autumn/Winter 2019 voice class dates
Our singing classes run at 11.45 every Friday during school terms. The 2019 autumn/winter classes began on Friday 6th September. There is no class in half-term week on 1st November, and the last class of the year is on 13th December.

The current Autumn term ends on 19th December. Half-term break begins on 26th October and term resumes on 4th November. Spring term 2020 starts on 6th January and ends on 3rd April.

We have a weekly voice class on Fridays from 11.45 to 12.45 at the W I Hall in Botley (there's a map on our contact page). About 80% of PwP have some sort of voice changes at some time and these classes offer exercises in a fun way to help keep our voices healthy. One member has reported that his voice had been somewhat hesitant and by coming to the classes this has stopped. Certainly it is valuable to join this and other classes to halt the onset of voice changes in addition to sharing time with others.

The classes are led by our charismatic teacher Emily Marshall. You can learn more about her work with us and other groups here on the Natural Voice Network’s website.

For more details of these voice classes please contact the Chair, whose contact details are on our committee page.

You can find further information about speech and language therapy (SALT) on our support pages.

IMPORTANT This activity has places available and we encourage you to visit the MoveMe web page to learn more and to register your interest.
Previously we have incorrectly indicated that the classes are fully booked. Please accept our apologies for the earlier misleading information.

MoveMe: physio­therapist-led group exercise

These group exercise classes, promoted by our good friends at Parkinsons.Me, are based on the high-intensity PD Warrior ® commercial programme but are led by an NHS physio­therapist.

For more information about the programme and details of how to register, visit the MoveMe page on the Parkinsons.Me website.

Ewan Stutt, founder of Parkinsons.Me, writes:

I'm excited to share with you news about our latest project. Parkinsons.Me have joined forces with the NHS Trust and is hosting a physiotherapy based exercise class near Wantage. We've booked every first and third Thursday morning from 10 til noon throughout 2019. We've called the group MoveMe and classes will take place at the Loyd Lindsay Rooms in Ardington (OX12 8PS).

What is MoveMe? It's an exciting new group exercise programme for people with Parkinson's led by an Oxford Health NHS Trust Physiotherapist from the Physical Disability Physiotherapy Service (PDPS) based in Abingdon, in partnership with Parkinsons.Me. It is based on the principles of PD Warrior ®.

Jo Preston delivers the class, supported by a Physical Disability Physiotherapy Service colleague.

The Fighting Fit programme

A new not-for-profit organization called Fighting Fit has launched a residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson's. You can find all about it on their website.

Exercise to live music in Abingdon

A recent initiative in Abingdon is offering exercise classes tailored for people with Parkinson's, with the special attraction of live music thanks to a skilled pianist who accompanies every session. The classes take place at the Abbey Baptist Church, in the historic heart of Abingdon, on Wednesday afternoons in term-time.

Take a look at the poster (click here to view or download) for more details including contact information for the organizer Pat Bryden, who writes:

Before Christmas a small group of people with Parkinson's and friends joined together in central Abingdon to enjoy gentle exercise to music with a dance teacher and a pianist. These sessions were a great success so now we wish to enlarge our group and are inviting other people from the Oxford/Abingdon area to join us.

Mindfulness for People with Parkinson's

There will be an Introduction to Mindfulness for PwPs workshop. Please contact Azizë Stirling on 01865 790168 or azize@onetel.com for more details.

Azizë writes:

Research is showing that stress is seen to have a significant role in neuro-degeneration and depression in Parkinson's disease. Some studies find that non-motor symptoms like depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, cognitive impairment, and apathy, can have a far greater impact on disease progression and health related quality of life than motor symptoms.

It can sometimes be hard to recognise the stress in our lives, as in today's world it is part of the air we breathe. Mindfulness can teach people how recognise stress. A programme in mindfulness can give us the time we need to step outside the lives we lead - time for just being. Time for learning new life skills and consolidating old ones. Time to develop a less reactive way of being, and to develop a kinder and wiser way of relating to what life throws at us. It starts from the premise that we all experience distress and discomfort and all have the capacity for joy and well-being, even in the midst of challenge and difficulty.

Learn more about mindfulness

Here is a link to an article written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the person credited with starting the secular mindfulness movement, on the event of the All Party Parliamentary Committee's report Mindful Nation on the policy implications of mindfulness. You can find the original report here.