Parkinson's UK Oxford Branch Parkinson's UK, our parent charity

July 2019

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Me and My Theracycle

 Diana Townsend

Diana, our Membership Secretary, imported a Theracycle power-assisted exercise bike from the USA. She tells us of her experience of using it for the last 8 months or so.

I don’t think I’m imagining it, I do think I’m swinging my arms again when I walk. We all know how we were asked to walk along the hospital corridor for a few yards, turn around and walk back while the consultant watched and assessed whether we had the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: static arms and an uneven gait. Way back, before I was diagnosed in 2014, I wondered why I kept bumping into my handbag! So why have my arms started moving again? I’m putting it down to my exercise on a theracycle.

This is a special kind of exercise bike with a motor which enhances your pedalling speed beyond what you would do comfortably using your own power and energy. On a normal exercise bike I guess I would do possibly 8-10 mph but on the theracycle I pedal at 15 mph for 30 minutes. I’ve been doing this most mornings for about 6 months now and although it’s difficult to quantify, I believe my balance is better and I rarely experience the “off” period in the morning that used to frustrate me before the 9.30 pills kicked in.

I’m fortunate in that the medication I take works well in controlling my Parkinson symptoms and I’ve been on the same dose for 20 months now. Has the pedalling helped? I cannot judge this, but I’m in contact with someone in America who has come off her medication through an intensive exercise programme which includes work on her theracycle. I’m not being so ambitious: just keeping at the same level will make it seem worthwhile, both financially and physically.

There is some limited research on “forced exercise” but nothing substantial. Of those with Parkinson’s who have a theracycle, 84% would recommend it to a fellow sufferer. I’m very happy to invite anyone to come and see my cycle. Just give me a call or email

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