Staying Diligent with Regular Parkinson’s Voice Exercises: The SMART Approach

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Stay Diligent with Parkinson Voice Exercises: Think SMART

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be a challenging journey, but here’s the good news: regular Parkinson specific voice exercises can greatly slow the progression of voice, speech and swallowing difficulty. The key is to stay diligent and motivated in your daily routine. To help you along the way, we’ve introduced the SMART acronym—a powerful tool designed to guide those with Parkinson’s disease in their quest for improved communication and swallowing abilities.

S – Schedule:

Life can indeed get busy, but just as you prioritize dentist or doctor appointments, your voice exercises deserve a special place on your calendar. Make a habit of scheduling your exercise time, and commit to showing up every time you’ve scheduled. You’ll be amazed at the progress you make when you treat these exercises as non-negotiable appointments with yourself.

M – Make It a Priority: 

Remember the saying, “You always have time for things you put first.” Your voice exercises should be a priority, not just another item on your to-do list. By giving them the importance they deserve, you’re taking a significant step towards improving your speech and voice. Consider this an investment in your well-being and your ability to communicate effectively.

A – Accountable:

Sharing your commitment with others can be a powerful motivator. Let your friends and family know about your dedication to daily voice exercises. Ask them to check in with you regularly and encourage you on your journey. Accountability can make a world of difference, as the support of loved ones can provide the extra push you need.

R – Reward Yourself:

Progress, no matter how small it may seem, deserves celebration. After completing your voice exercises, treat yourself to a well-deserved reward. Whether it’s a soothing cappuccino, a stroll in the park, or a relaxing Netflix show, these small rewards can make your journey more enjoyable. Recognizing your accomplishments reinforces your commitment.

T – Team Up:

Surrounding yourself with positive and motivational people is key to staying motivated. Consider finding a “speech partner” within your Parkinson’s community. You can arrange to do your voice exercises together or at the same time, providing each other with support and motivation. Together, you’ll thrive and make significant strides in your speech and voice improvement.

The Struggle is Real

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease face unique challenges when it comes to self-motivation to initiate and sustain healthy lifestyle habits. This difficulty can be attributed to the deficiency of dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for motivation and reward. As dopamine plays a pivotal role in the brain’s reward system, it becomes increasingly challenging for those with Parkinson’s to find the internal drive to engage in exercise, adhere to dietary restrictions, or maintain other health-promoting behaviors.

This deficiency can lead to a vicious cycle, as a lack of motivation can contribute to a decline in physical activity and a lessened commitment to lifestyle changes that could potentially improve their quality of life. Supporting individuals with Parkinson’s in finding alternative sources of motivation and implementing strategies to overcome these challenges is crucial for their overall well-being.

Remember… Think SMART

In your journey to combat the communication and swallowing challenges that Parkinson’s disease may present, staying diligent and motivated is crucial. Remember the SMART acronym: Schedule your exercises, Make them a priority, be Accountable to yourself and loved ones, Reward your accomplishments, and Team up with supportive individuals. Your commitment to daily Parkinson’s voice exercises will lead to remarkable progress, giving you the confidence and strength to face the challenges ahead.

Your voice is your powerful tool—keep it strong, and keep communicating with the world.

Benefits of Improved Posture in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's posture, stooped posture, improving mood with improved posture, posture and mood in Parkinson's disease

Understanding Parkinson’s Posture

In this article we will review how improved posture can make far reaching quality of life changes for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. But first, it’s essential to understand what exactly IS “Parkinson’s posture”? The Parkinson’s stoop, also known as camptocormia is a forward-leaning posture that affects many individuals with Parkinson’s disease. This condition can be caused by a combination of muscle rigidity, postural instability, and changes in the brain that affect balance and coordination. The resulting posture not only affects physical health but can also lead to emotional and psychological distress.

How Improved Posture Affects Mood

Can improved posture in Parkinson’s also improve your mood? The resounding answer is YES! Research has shown that adopting an upright posture, even in the face of stress or discomfort, can have a positive impact on mood. Here’s how it works:

  1. Maintaining Self-Esteem: Sitting up straight and tall can help maintain a sense of self-esteem and confidence. It sends a powerful message to your brain that you are in control, boosting self-assurance.
  2. Reducing Stress: Improved posture can reduce cortisol levels, commonly referred to as ‘the stress hormone.’ Lower cortisol levels are associated with decreased stress and anxiety.
  3. Increasing Positivity: Adopting a confident posture can increase positive emotions and reduce negative ones. It can create a feedback loop, making you feel better and more optimistic.

Enhancing Vocal Projection Through Improved Posture

From a vocal perspective, maintaining an improved posture is essential for those with Parkinson’s disease. A good posture allows for better, deeper breathing, which is the fuel needed to power a stronger voice. Here’s how good posture enhances vocal projection:

  1. Improved Lung Capacity: Sitting or standing with an upright posture allows your lungs to fully expand. This increased lung capacity provides the necessary airflow to produce a more powerful and resonant voice.
  2. Enhanced Vocal Resonance: Good posture ensures that sound waves travel unobstructed from your vocal cords through your vocal tract. This results in better resonance and a clearer, more projected voice.
  3. Reduced Vocal Strain: Slouching or hunching can strain your vocal cords, leading to voice fatigue and a weaker voice. Maintaining proper posture reduces this strain, allowing for sustained and effective vocal projection.

How to Improve Posture in Parkinson’s

Improving posture in Parkinson’s disease involves a comprehensive approach that includes physical therapy, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. Here are some strategies to help fight the Parkinson’s stoop:

  1. Physical Therapy: Consult with a physical therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease. They can assess your posture and create a customized exercise program to address your specific needs. Physical therapy may involve stretching and strengthening exercises to improve core muscles and flexibility.
  2. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as tai chi or yoga, can improve balance and body awareness. These practices help individuals with Parkinson’s disease become more conscious of their posture and make subtle adjustments.
  3. Ergonomics: Pay attention to your environment. Ensure that your furniture, workspace, and daily activities are ergonomically designed to support good posture. Use chairs with lumbar support and keep frequently used items at an easily accessible height.
  4. Orthotics: Some individuals with Parkinson’s find relief from orthotic devices, such as back braces or posture correctors. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if these devices are suitable for you.
  5. Medication Adjustments: Work closely with your neurologist to manage your medication regimen. Sometimes, adjusting your medications can reduce muscle rigidity and make it easier to maintain an upright posture.
  6. Speech Therapy: Speech therapists can provide Parkinson specific voice exercises to strengthen the muscles involved in posture and breathing, which can indirectly improve overall posture.
  7. Stay Active: Regular physical activity, (ideally Parkinson specific exercise!) even in the form of simple activities like walking or swimming, can help maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Rock Steady Boxing is a Parkinson specific boxing program that’s offered in nearly a 1000 gyms worldwide.

For individuals with Parkinson’s disease, maintaining good posture is not merely a matter of aesthetics; it can significantly impact both mood and vocal projection. By understanding Parkinson’s posture and its causes, individuals can take proactive steps to improve their well-being. So, sit up straight, stand tall, and discover the transformative power of improved posture in your life. Your mood and voice will thank you for it.

How Committing to Regular Speech Exercises in Parkinson’s Disease Can Transform Your Life

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Unlocking the Power of Your Voice through Speech Exercises

In this blog post we’ll reveal how committing to regular voice and speech exercises for Parkinson’s disease can transform your life. Living with Parkinson’s disease can present a series of challenges that extend beyond the physical realm. The impact on one’s quality of life can be profound, affecting not only gross body movements but also communication and swallowing function.

While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are strategies and habits that can significantly improve the daily lives of those affected. One such powerful habit is committing to doing regular speech exercises, which can act as a keystone habit that unlocks a ripple effect of positive change, transforming the rest of your life.

Understanding Keystone Habits 🔑

Keystone habits are those behaviors or routines that have a disproportionate impact on our lives. They serve as catalysts, initiating a chain reaction that leads to the development of other positive habits and choices. In the context of Parkinson’s disease, committing to regular voice and speech exercises can be one such keystone habit.

The Ripple Effect of Keystone Habits

Now, let’s delve into how committing to regular Parkinson specific speech exercises can set off a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of individuals with Parkinson’s disease:

1. Increased Motivation:

Successfully incorporating Parkinson’s voice and speech exercises into your daily routine can boost your confidence in your ability to make positive changes. This newfound motivation can spill over into other aspects of your life, inspiring you to take on new challenges and make healthier choices.

2. Increased Confidence:

As speech becomes more clear and powerful, confidence naturally follows. Confidence can open doors to new opportunities, such as participating in support groups, taking on leadership roles, or simply engaging in activities that were once avoided due to communication challenges.

3. Better Self-Care:

Once you experience the benefits of regular exercise, you may be more inclined to prioritize self-care. This could involve improving your diet, getting regular physical activity, and managing stress more effectively.

4. Enhanced Emotional Resilience:

Improved communication and social connections can provide emotional support, helping you better navigate the emotional ups and downs of Parkinson’s disease. This resilience can lead to a more positive outlook on life.

5. A Holistic Approach to Parkinson’s Management:

Keystone habits often lead to the adoption of other healthy habits. By committing to voice exercise, you might find yourself exploring complementary therapies, seeking out new sources of information and support, and actively engaging in your healthcare management.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

As the old saying goes: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure. It’s much easier to start doing voice and speech exercises early on in the disease process to significantly slow the decline of any communication or swallowing issues. Waiting until you have significant impairment means you will be fighting an uphill battle to regain what you have lost. All it takes is just a bit of commitment each day to devote to your voice fitness routine. Even 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference if done consistently.

Lack of Motivation

The struggle to stay motivated to do any kind of exercise is very real for people with Parkinson’s. Dopamine is one of our “get up and go” neurotransmitters, so those with PD are already behind the eight-ball in being able to self motivate and stay diligent with voice exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits.

PRO TIP: We suggest start small. Only 5 or 10 minutes a day. You can even do your voice exercises in the shower! Talk about dual tasking.

Pressed for time? Try our 5 Minute Parkinson’s Voice Exercise Workout HERE.

In the journey of living with Parkinson’s disease, committing to daily voice and speech exercises can be a transformative keystone habit that sets off a chain reaction of positive change. By improving communication, confidence, and overall well-being, this habit can lead to better self-care, emotional resilience, and a holistic approach to managing the disease.

#1 Tips to Prepare for Parkinson’s Voice Exercises

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Get Ready Get Set… Preparing for Parkinson’s Voice Exercises

POSITIONING & POSTURE: Ensure you have proper posture when doing your daily Parkinson’s voice exercises. Whether you’re following along to our live or on demand speech therapist led sessions, you’ll want to make sure that you are set up correctly. Cranio-cervical positional changes can greatly influence voice production!

Top Speech Therapist Tips

✅ Use a supportive chair with good back support

✅ Situate yourself squarely in front of your screen

✅ Both feet should be planted steadily on the ground. Ensure knees are not locked together.

✅ Chin should be parallel to the floor and slightly tucked in.

✅ Chest should be lifted (to achieve this, lift both arms straight up above your head, then gently let them fall back down without letting your chest drop).

✅ Shoulders should be relaxed and back, and spine should be straight.

BREATHING: Keep your stomach both firm and expandable at the same time. You will need to practice controlling these muscles while learning how to breathe using your diaphragm.

HYDRATE: Always have a full glass of water within reach during voice exercise sessions. Staying hydrated helps your body produce thin, watery mucus. Your vocal cords vibrate more than 100 times per second when you speak, and they need that mucus to help them move!

STAY RELAXED: Tension in the shoulders, neck and throat can result in poor voice quality and potentially strain those tender vocal fold tissues.

Try doing a few deep diaphragmatic breaths prior to starting. Breathe in deeply through the noise, imagining that you are inflating the belly like a balloon and slowly blow out through gently pursed lips. You can even make a gentle “ooh” sound as you breathe out. Feel the ZEN!

 

Now you’re ready to safely do your daily Parkinson’s voice exercises!