Parkinson’s UK Scotland awarded over £140,000 to create national exercise network

Parkinson’s UK Scotland will receive over £140,000 during the next 3 years from the National Lottery Community Fund to establish the first Parkinson’s Scotland Exercise Network.

Reacting to news of the award, Annie Macleod, Director of Parkinson’s UK Scotland said:

“Parkinson’s UK Scotland is delighted that the National Lottery is supporting our plan to make structured Parkinson’s specific exercise activities available for everyone in Scotland regardless of their location or stage of Parkinson’s.

“There is no cure for Parkinson’s however, there is growing evidence that structured exercise may slow its progress and people with Parkinson’s tell us that exercise is the single biggest aid to managing symptoms and improving quality of life. This award will enable us to work with partners and develop a network that will broaden access to exercise for people with Parkinson’s everywhere.”

Deliver a nationwide network of exercise activities 

The charity has already developed an exercise framework and in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government, has appointed Julie Jones as it’s first clinical research fellowship. 

Julie said: “Properly targeted exercising can transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s. The benefits of exercise in managing physical Parkinson’s symptoms are well established. There’s now a growing realisation that it also appears to lead to physiological changes within the brain that may have a condition-modifying effect.

“This award from the National Lottery will enable Parkinson’s UK Scotland to bring physiotherapists and exercise and leisure providers together with people affected by the condition to deliver a nationwide network of exercise activities that has the potential to change people’s lives.”

Life-changing benefits of exercise

One of the many people already seeing the life-changing benefits of exercise is former teacher Janet Kerr from Lochgelly. Janet has been living with Parkinson’s for three years after being diagnosed with the condition at the age of 47.

Janet says: “Exercise is as important to me as my Parkinson’s medication and it makes an enormous difference in helping me deal with my symptoms. I cycle, swim, or rollerskate every day and despite my Parkinson’s I’m fitter than ever. Exercise gives a huge boost to my wellbeing and I’m so pleased that this award means that so many others will get the chance to experience the benefits too.”

Parkinson’s exercise classes blossom in Highland

Access to Parkinson's-specific exercise varies across Scotland. One area that’s ahead of the curve is the Highlands where High Life Highland has worked in partnership with Parkinson’s UK Scotland to create six Parkinson’s exercise classes across the region. 

Carole Jackman, a physiotherapist with NHS Highland who helped pioneer the project says: “It’s been fantastic to see Parkinson’s exercise classes blossom in Highland. Doing the right type of exercise is vital and people are reporting terrific progress as a result of participating.” 

One of those people enjoying the High Life classes is Andrew Grant from Inverness. Andrew was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018 at the age of 68.

Andrew says: “The classes, at the local leisure centre, give me a thorough work-out and I always feel the benefit of them even if I’m not having a great day. There’s also a great social element to the classes - it’s really useful to get together with others living with the condition and share experiences.

"There’s a fantastic sense of community with everyone supporting everyone else. I’d urge anyone who has the opportunity to get to a class to go along. You’ll be amazed at just how much better you will feel.”

The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Director, Neil Ritch, said: “It’s thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players that we are able to award Parkinson’s UK Scotland £140,417 to introduce more people with Parkinson’s to the benefits of exercise. This is a great project which builds on successful local pilots and will make a real difference to the quality of life of many more people with the condition across Scotland.”