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Participants exercising in a healthy living class

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological syndrome that progresses over time. Since it is a movement disorder, it impacts a person’s ability to participate in routine tasks. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include rigid muscles, slowness of movement, loss of balance, tremors and soft speech. More than 1.5 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.

The experience of living with Parkinson’s disease is different for each person affected, and while medications can help suppress symptoms, none have been shown to slow or stop the disease from progressing. However, remaining active through exercise can greatly increase a person’s ability to maintain independence and participate in the things they enjoy.

The YMCA of Greater Omaha runs an evidence-based fitness program created by Ohio Health, led by certified Delay the Disease™ instructors. It is designed to empower people with Parkinson’s disease by optimizing their physical function and helping to delay the progression of symptoms. Research in the area of Parkinson’s disease indicates that exercise has been shown to improve self-confidence and independence, decrease the risk of falls, minimize fatigue, reduce rigidity and improve mobility.

The Parkinson’s exercise program is geared specifically to counteract the movement challenges experienced by people with Parkinson’s. Individuals with other neurological conditions are also welcome to join the class! 

Learn more about Delay the Disease


"The Parkinson’s class has become one of the highlights of my week. The class not only helps me physically, but maybe even more importantly, it helps me mentally.

The instructor adapts her instruction to meet the needs of the participants. We work on many areas including strength, balance, flexibility and cardio. She understands the needs of Parkinson's patients and chooses activities accordingly. She also leads coordination activities to challenge our brains. If we are not mentally and physically challenged, we don’t change the brain!

Besides our physical well-being, our class has enabled us to develop friendships.  Sharing news of the week is an important part of class.  And, being on Zoom, we’ve been able to share our pets, grandchildren, and hobbies. Together we always stand strong."  Beth


"I think the Parkinson’s class has been a wonderful activity for my recovery.  I don’t have Parkinson’s but I did have an auto accident which left me with a brain injury. I was in a coma for two weeks. I had other issues (broken bones, collapsed lungs etc) and after learning how to function again I still had balance problems.

I started class and with the boxing, walking, exercises  bicycling and using bands, I felt more confident and didn’t need my cane as much. With the Covid pandemic still on-going and after I broke a bone in my foot, I am using my cane again. I can’t say enough about how good this program has been. The Delay the Disease team have been instrumental in achieving my goals. I look forward to when we can meet again in person!"  Debbie



"My name is Butch Sales and I want to talk about my life with Parkinson's and how the YMCA Healthy Living Center has helped me deal with it. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2012 and was told exercise was the best way to deal with it.  I have been taking exercise classes at YMCA to deal with Parkinson's after retiring in 2014. The results of this program (Delay the Disease) have been unbelievable.  My Parkinson's numbers have kept decreasing each year since I started this program. Lois and her staff had introduced me to the Delay the Disease program and it has helped me to control my numbers.  I often tell people how the Healthy Living Center has helped me.  But is is more than just me.  It is all the wonderful people I do classes with, including the staff. Camaraderie, friendship and the support we share are priceless."  Butch

Category: Health & Wellness
Image of Lois Turner

Lois Turner is the Health & Wellness Director at the YMCA Healthy Living Center in Council Bluffs. She has 16 years of experience serving Active Older Adults.  Her certifications include: AFAA for group exercise, Tai Chi, and Silver Sneakers, Delay the Disease, & Line Dancing.