SEATTLE - It's a Tuesday morning spin class in Seattle's Magnuson Park, filled with the same mix of quiet determination and enthusiasm of any group class. Only this class is slightly different: Its participants have Parkinson's disease, and they're pedaling on a tandem bike with a volunteer.
Outdoors For All is the local organization behind the twice-yearly sessions of Parkinson's Tandem Cycling. Their mission is to use outdoor recreation to enhance and enrich the quality of life for kids and adults with disabilities; but this indoor program fits right along with their goals.
Mick Fish just completed his second session of the program. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's at the end of 2015. "I thought, what can I try to do to try and forestall the effects of the disease?"
It brought him to this class. Every Tuesday morning for eight weeks, Mick climbs onto a tandem bike behind his buddy and program volunteer, Jose. "My legs are pretty buzzy, and I have a tremor in my body," Mick explains. "If I don't start walking or doing something, that gets worse; and after a cycling class, it's almost nonexistent."
It's a method supported by science. Researchers with the physical therapy department at the University of Washington recently completed a two year study that found tandem activities (think ballroom dancing, boxing, and tandem cycling) can reduce the effects of Parkinson's and increase mobility.
But the positive impacts don't end there. There's also a camaraderie and a sense of community, as people battling what can be a very isolating disease can come together on common ground. "There's truly a lot of mental stuff: fatigue, anxiety, depression that goes along with [having Parkinson's]," Mick tells us. But he says this class helps by bringing him together with people who understand- and hold him accountable.
Outdoors For All is hoping to expand this class, but they need more volunteers. To learn more about becoming a volunteer or participant in this program, or any of the others they offer, click HERE. They also have payment options available and financial help for those who may not be able to afford some of their classes, so be sure to ask!