This article by Nicole Nathan Bem originally appeared on Goodnet.
Two Canadian cyclists are riding 8,000-kilometers across Canada with an important mission. These awesome riders have Parkinson’s disease and during their Spinning Wheels Tour, they are empowering others with Parkinson’s to get on their bikes and rediscover freedom and joy.
Steve Iseman and Jim Redmond kicked off their bike tour on June 25, 2022, in Victoria, British Columbia. They are receiving support and assistance en route by friends Mike and Loghrin and his wife Darlene.
Iseman and Redmond were both physically fit before they were diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease and felt determined to keep active and push themselves.
This is the message they wish to convey to those 100,000 Canadians who have also been diagnosed. Some nine of out 10 Canadians with Parkinson’s lack support and live in isolation and silence. As the numbers of those diagnosed is increasing each year, this brave team wants to give these people confidence.
Although many people with early onset are afraid to get on a bike, people are more capable than they think, Iseman explained on Parkinson Canada. If a standard bike feels scary, there are recumbent trikes that offer better balance. And if you feel muscle weakness, add pedal-assist to the ride.
The bottom line is that people with Parkinson’s must get moving and doing an activity that increases your heart rate. “Despite your fears and the voice inside your head saying, ‘I can’t,’ your body is saying, ‘I can, and I need to.’ If cycling isn’t your thing, there are so many activities people with Parkinson’s can take part in,” Iseman told Parkinson Canada.
In fact, according to a study in the International Review of Neurobiology, various types of exercise may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and have a positive impact on motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease. Exercise may improve involuntary movement, support the brain and plasticity, improve metabolism, impede oxidative stress, and repair mitochondrial damage. Plus, exercise decreases the higher risk of diabetes, cardiac disease, and hypertension that may arise in those with Parkinson’s.
Over halfway there!
On August 2, the riders were in Thunder Bay, Ontario, over halfway through their three-month ride, according to their Facebook page. They are being interviewed by local news stations and podcasters along the way, hoping to get the word out and to raise money for research.
Both Iseman and Redmond had to work hard to feel happiness in the bike saddle. “When I was first diagnosed, walking and running were mostly difficult but when I got on a bike it was like lightning struck. Although I was not fast in the grand scheme of things, I felt like I was fast and, more importantly, I felt free,” Redmond explained on the Spinning Wheels site.
This dynamic duo wants to inspire others to do the same. To ride with Parkinson’s, people may have to make a few adjustments, but the rewards are boundless, being great for mind, body, and mood. “I can now cycle again. I go as fast as I can, play in the wind, conquer hills, race with no finish line. The joy is back,” said Iseman.
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