Pedaling for Parkinson’s

Paul Alex (left) and Jim Ammons pedal to keep up with Ann’s timings (that’s Ann in the background). “It’s tougher than it looks,” says Jim!

Paul Alex (left) and Jim Ammons pedal to keep up with Ann’s timings (that’s Ann in the background). “It’s tougher than it looks,” says Jim!

Susan Knox Wilson

“For folks with Parkinson’s disease, exercise is more than healthy—it is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility, and the activities of daily living,” said Ann Merrill, PebbleCreek certified personal trainer. “Research has shown that exercise and physical activity can improve many Parkinson’s symptoms so we’ve added a special fitness program geared for PebbleCreek residents with Parkinson’s.”

The program, Pedaling for Parkinson’s, was founded by Dr. Jay Alberts, a neuroscientist and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, and Cathy Frazier, a woman living with Parkinson’s disease. Riding a tandem bike, they discovered that cycling reduced Cathy’s symptoms.

In Ann’s Pedaling for Parkinson’s program, participants ride for about 40 minutes, then cool down for 20 minutes with gentle aerobic moves focused on balance and mobility. Participants riding three days a week over eight weeks have shown improvement in their Parkinson’s related symptoms by as much as 35%.

Michael Scherer, one of the participants in Ann’s class, observed that “we are so lucky to have a class like this right in own backyard.”

“Ann’s class keeps me laughing,” chimed in classmate Alana McGlynn. Paul Alex said he liked the upbeat music, and Bill Brown commented that the group was so welcoming that he felt like part of a team.

“It’s invigorating, that’s for sure,” claimed Rick Paquette.

Ann—who is, to date, the only certified Pedaling for Parkinson’s instructor in Arizona—learned about the program when she spoke about the importance of exercise at a monthly meeting of PebbleCreek’s Parkinson’s Support Group. There, she learned about the program from Bob Marchese. Bob’s wife, Linda, had participated in a pedaling program in their former home town in Cape Cod, and Bob suggested a program be started in PebbleCreek. Ann agreed and signed up for the rigorous and intensive training needed to become a certified instructor. She introduced the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program this past April.

Bob is just one of several volunteers who help Ann with the pedaling class. Ann says she is looking for several more volunteers to help participants adjust their bikes, mount and dismount, and monitor their progress. Contact Ann at for more information.

Ann’s Pedaling for Parkinson’s class is offered in the fitness studios on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 p.m.