ParkTalk Blog - NeuroFlex Fitness: Learn how exercise benefits those with neurological conditions
Thursday, May 11, 2023
Do you know someone who is facing the challenges of a progressive neurological condition like Parkinson's Disease or early onset dementia? Or have you recently been diagnosed with a similar health condition? Regular exercise with others can help!
Members of the fitness staff team at Fort Hill Activity Center developed a program combining physical movement with cognitive tasks in a group setting to benefit those with a variety of neurological conditions. Called "NeuroFlex Fitness," the program has expanded from an earlier program, "Big Moves," that was created for individuals with Parkinson's Disease. NeuroFlex Fitness continues to add classes, including progressive levels of strength, balance and cardio training, yoga, and yoga chi, with plans to add cycle and boxing classes in the future. To give participants the most flexibility and access to the program, the classes are held in hybrid form, with the in-person classes at Fort Hill Activity Center and the virtual format available for those who need to participate from home.
Online participants can join the class from home
Benefits of the Program
The results for those participating in this program are hopeful and tangible. "We hear from participants positive reports from their doctors, improvement in symptoms and that they feel better after each session," said Wellness Manager Kim Monti.
"Outcomes that individuals notice include improved mental clarity, renewed energy and flexibility, better balance and strength, and encouragement from being with other participants who have similar challenges," said Instructor Maura Connor.
Instructor Monique leads a class at Fort Hill Activity Center
NeuroFlex Fitness is the only known program of its kind in our region that is designed for those with neurological conditions and is being offered in a community recreation setting, rather than at a medical facility. The Park District strives to keep the cost affordable and the classes convenient and accessible. Even those who participate remotely can interact with others in the class and feel that they are part of the group. One caregiver of a participant noted that participants maintain a sense of normalcy by working out at a community fitness center and caregivers can have some positive time there for self-care, for example, working out themselves, talking with other caregivers or relaxing with a book.
A spouse of a participant also testified to the benefits of the community spirit of the program. "There is a bonding that can be seen in those attending the classes, and outside as well, among the waiting caregivers. The caregivers are talking about what are some helpful thoughts and ideas on how they are doing. It is a small community built on caring. I have been so taken by how this has helped my wife that I have taken the NeuroFlex brochures to the Rush memory care center when she was in a clinical trial, to her neurologist, and both of our primary care physicians to hand out at their practices."
Learn More About NeuroFlex Fitness
View the current NeuroFlex Fitness classes here. To learn more and register, contact Wellness Manager Kimberly Monti, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 630-995-8913.
What Participants and Caregivers are Saying
From a participant: "I find (NeuroFlex Fitness) to be very interactive and fun. The time goes by quickly and it builds camaraderie among us with Parkinson's (and other conditions). The exercises are targeted at improving my symptoms and the results give me confidence and a positive attitude to start the day."
Instructor Maura Connor teaching the class at Fort Hill Activity Center
From a family member of a participant: "They say that one of the best ways to lift yourself up is to lift up others, and the NeuroFlex program does exactly that: uplifting both participants and a community of caregivers. NeuroFlex combines physical fitness with memory exercises in an energetic environment where everyone is welcome. Our mom has been an active participant over the past year, and she feels that NeuroFlex makes cloudy days sunny and sunny days even more so. The instructors, Maura and Monique, are both rays of light: always warm, welcoming, and vivacious. Along with Kim, Fort Hill Wellness Manager, everyone has remarkable empathy for their participants, supporting and encouraging each individually and collectively as a class. NeuroFlex not only flexes muscles and minds -- it also opens hearts and gives everyone some extra pep in their step."