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Member exercises to defy odds, battle Parkinson's
Lisle resident Patty Wray is a “fitness fanatic.” At the age of 52, Wray exercises six days a week at the Edward Health & Fitness Center at Seven Bridges. Because she likes to “mix-up” her workouts, Wray works with three different personal trainers and does everything from Pilates and strength training to Zumba. For her 50th birthday, she learned how to swim.

And she does all this, even after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease.

“I’m very diligent about exercise because I don’t want to end up in a wheelchair,” Wray says.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, which causes the brain to stop producing dopamine cells that sends signals to the brain. Common symptoms include shaking, difficulty with walking and gait, rigidity and slowness of movement. Other symptoms include insomnia, depression and sensory problems.

At the time of her diagnosis almost three years ago, Wray was running six miles a day on the treadmill despite cramping in her right foot. What she thought was muscle fatigue turned out to be tremors brought on by Parkinson’s.

Today, she continues to have tremors and rigidity on her right side as well as cramping in her feet, making it hard to walk on some days.

Exercise has been the best medicine for Wray who rarely misses a day at the gym. Each week, she has hour-long sessions with three personal trainers at Edward to work on strength training, range of motion, Pilates and muscle activation therapy to loosen tight muscles.

“Personal training is helping Patty to work on her specific exercise needs, brought on by her Parkinson’s. Patty has always been an active person with a great attitude. Exercise is helping her to stay active with her family and feel even more positive,” says Connie Truesdale, one of Wray’s personal trainers.

Wray also participates in group classes such as Fitness for Special Populations, Muscle Pump and TRX, and attends Zumba dance classes for the benefits of sequencing and memorizing steps.

She enjoys swimming, something she didn’t know how to do until just before her diagnosis.

“The freestyle (front stroke) is a little harder for me because I can’t kick with my right foot,” she says.

Unlike peers diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the same time, Wray feels that she is maintaining mobility and balance.

“Even though I can’t do everything that I used to do, I can still do more than most healthy people. I have so many good friends at EHFC, it helps me to go and work out,” she says.


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