Objective: To explore the experiences of people with Parkinson’s disease (PwPD) in managing their exercise during the first four months of the pandemic (March-July 2020).
Background: Exercise is essential for successful disease management in PwPD. Community-based exercise classes allow for social interaction and greater exercise adherence in PwPD. Due to precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to in-person community-based exercise classes were terminated in March 2020 in the state of Michigan (U.S.A) secondary to stay-at-home orders.
Method: Twenty PwPD who attended community-based exercise classes prior to class closures were purposely recruited via convenience sampling. Semi-structured interviews were completed using video conferencing system with participants approximately four months (July 2020) after classes were canceled. Questions focused on participants’ activity and exercise prior to, during stay-at-home orders (March-June), and current status. Audio recordings were transcribed, and the constant comparative method was used for theme identification.
Results: Overall, the participants held active lives self-reporting the frequency of exercising pre-COVID 4.5 days/week (range 1-7). At the time of interview, participants reports their current exercise at 3.9 days/week (range 0-7). Four main themes were identified (1) Initial Fear, Confusion, and Loss; (2) Exercise is Essential (subthemes helps managing symptoms and socialization); (3) Challenges, Alternatives, and New Opportunities for Exercise; (4) Future of Community Based Classes.
Conclusion: COVID-19 changed the way that PwPD managed their exercise. Initially, our participants expressed uncertainty in managing exercise while negotiating the concerns surrounding the pandemic. Participants expressed missing the social support and the accountability that were provided by the group class structure. Key factors impacting the transition included reliance on care partner support, willingness to try alternatives, and the ability to utilize technology in accessing exercise options. PwPD expressed concerns and hope about returning to face-to-face classes, but also discussed the need for continuing online exercise options.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Q. Hanses, A. Yorke, J. Haines. Perspectives of People with Parkinson Disease Managing Exercise during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study [abstract]. Mov Disord. 2021; 36 (suppl 1). https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/perspectives-of-people-with-parkinson-disease-managing-exercise-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-a-qualitative-study/. Accessed December 10, 2023.
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