As Parkinson’s disease progresses, it can become more difficult for a person to find physical activities that they can do with others, which can affect their social life. However, a few years ago my husband Mike and I discovered something we could do together: kayaking.
Like other paddling sports, kayaking incorporates many exercises recommended for those of us with Parkinson’s disease. It can improve strength and balance, and provide both cardio and amplitude workouts. In addition, we can do it with friends!
Last summer my search for a tandem kayak or two single kayaks started and ended on the same day. Apparently, the COVID-19 pandemic had given everyone the same idea. Outdoor activities were popular and kayaks were sold everywhere.
Frustrated, I gave up my retail search and pursued the online market. I found an inflatable tandem kayak and drove almost an hour to get it. It was still in the box and convenient to pack.
Practice? Yes. Perfect? No. It was not the same as a traditional kayak. The seats weren’t strong enough for me to get the leverage I needed to paddle properly. Even though it wasn’t a great kayak, it was still a wonderful raft.
The perfect Christmas present
The kayaks were back in stock for the holidays at the end of 2020, so I ordered two. Christmas morning arrived and Mike went on a treasure hunt. After a few twists and turns, he found them at my parents’ house. We talked about our possible kayaking adventures. However, despite all my planning, I hadn’t thought about how to transport these beautiful floating ships.
We bought a roof rack, two J-bars and a plethora of tie-down straps for our car. We were ready to go! However, we immediately realized that two kayaks and only two of us presented a challenge. Maneuvering the kayaks made me aware of both my position shake and my limited range of motion. It took some effort, but we managed to get them into the car.
The moment of truth
It was time for a test drive. The road to our house from my parents’ house was less than 3 miles. My anxiety was off the charts, but we kept going. Feeling confident and hitting the speed limit, we approached the last corner in our neighborhood. Suddenly the car turned right, but the front of the kayak turned left. Trembling and laughing at the same time, we stopped, fastened the strap and headed home.
A few days later, we were successful. We finally took them out to the lake. It was beautiful and a great workout. It is difficult to get on and off a kayak gracefully, although it is a good balancing act. I recommend watching a video tutorial to explore different options.
Many companies offer rental kayaks and local group paddling tours if you want to include friends or make new ones.
If you have Parkinson’s disease, how do you maintain your social life? What kinds of activities can you do with friends? Have you tried a paddle sport? Don’t forget to visit Parkinson’s News Today forums and share your stories.
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