John's walk for Parkinson's

John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 60. Nearly 20 years later, he still doesn’t let the condition stop him enjoying an active lifestyle.

“I’ve always enjoyed being active, even before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” explains John. “So I was determined to keep going afterwards.

“There’s always something you can do to keep active. You’d be amazed at the difference it can make, and you should never be afraid to try something new.”

John was a keen golfer, but when that became too challenging, he set about taking his own advice.

“I joined my local Parkinson’s group in Basingstoke, which runs a weekly Steps class. The instructor, Stephanie, is really great and helps to keep everyone motivated.

“I’m also doing a lot of floor exercises to try to improve my strength and balance,” says John, adding: “It’s surprising what you can still do at my age!”

And at nearly 80, John has now taken up Neuroboxing classes online to help him improve his balance, coordination and strength. But it’s walking that remains John’s number one hobby.

Walking 2 or 3 miles on a hot and sunny day may not sound like much to most people, but when you have Parkinson’s it takes a lot of effort.

One foot in front of the other

For John, walking has helped both his physical and mental health. He explains: “When you walk, you can just go out and find places in nature and it really lifts your mood.”

John’s passion for walking eventually led to him taking part in Walk for Parkinson’s events. He managed his first walk 2 years ago, and while he expected to fundraise and raise awareness for the condition, he was surprised by what else the day gave him.

He says: “I couldn’t have imagined how many amazing people I would meet along the way who had similar stories to mine.”

Last year, John took part with his son Gary. “I remember it was really hot that day and I didn’t know if I could finish. Walking 2 or 3 miles on a hot and sunny day may not sound like much to most people, but when you have Parkinson’s it takes a lot of effort.”

John and his son Gary at the finish line of Walk for Parkinson's event. Both are wearing Parkinson's tshirts and shorts.
John, with his son Gary, at the finishing line of the Walk for Parkinson's event

As Parkinson’s has affected John’s mobility, he now uses a lasercane, a type of walking stick which projects a red laser beam onto the ground in front of your feet when walking.  The cane can help with freezing, although John used it to guide him through the walk.

“I find that setting personal goals keeps me motivated, but I wasn’t expecting to finish very high up the order. On the day I managed sixth overall, and to my surprise I was the first person with Parkinson’s to finish.

“Walking with Gary made all the difference as he kept me going. And I don’t think I would have finished if I hadn’t seen my wife Barbara, and other family members at the finishing line – my grandchildren, Eilah and Nelson, were my cheerleaders!

“It’s a great sense of achievement once you cross the finish line – it’s definitely inspired me to do more.”

Walk for Parkinson's

Walk for Parkinson's raises money for research into new treatments and a cure. 

There are different organised walks across the country, or why not think about organising your own?