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Senior-doctor-throat-open-wide

Parkinson’s Symptoms: “OPEN WIDE” – A Trip Down Our Throat

Our throat muscles, through which we speak, sing and scream, give us our signature sound. In many situations, people affected by Parkinsons disease (PD) have diminished voice control. According to Wikipedia, Parkinsons disease can cause changes in speech. The voice may get softer, breathy or hoarse, causing others difficulty hearing what we say. Speech may be slurred. Speech changes can interfere with communication, which can be isolating and harmful.

Other causes of voice disorders include infections, stomach acids that move upward in the throat, growths due to a virus, cancer and diseases that paralyze the vocal cords. Here is a brief understanding of what, how and ways to care for your precious voice.

What Are Your Vocal Cords?

Your voice box sits between the base of your tongue and the top of your windpipe, which is where your Adams apple likes to hang out. (The Adams apple is more pronounced in men than in women.) The vocal cords are two bands of smooth muscle membrane tissue, each covered in a mucous membrane, that stretch across the voice box like the strings on a guitar.

How They Work

When youre quiet: listening, observing, perhaps meditating your vocal cords sit apart, creating a tunnel through which you breathe in. But the moment you begin speaking, they clap together as the diaphragm pushes air up from the lungs. This air causes a buzz sound or vibration and sends sound waves through your throat, nose and mouth, which amplify them. As these humspass through, they are transformed into song or sentences.

Your Sound

Vocal cords vary in thickness and length, which is why each person has his or her unique tune. Think of the singer Barry Whites voice. Deep and strong. Those who have booming voices, such as Barbra Streisand have larger resonating cavities (throat, nose and mouth).

Take Care of Your Cords

Yelling, or screaming can cause inflammation and lesions on your vocal cords. Even a long-lasting cough can do damage. If you are hoarse, rest your voice. Speak softly and try to avoid throat clearing, even if your throat is congested. Drink lots of water to thin excess mucus and lubricate. Menthol and eucalyptus can be irritating.

For those with Parkinsons disease, if you notice your voice is diminished, see a speech-language pathologist (SLPs) specializing in voice therapy. They can assist with diagnosis, assessment, planning and treatment of voice disorders including difficulty with swallowing. Some exercises include moving your tongue up and down, moving it from corner to corner, placing your tongue at the tip of your mouth or smiling and saying EEEloudly. Repeat 10 times, at least twice a day.


Reprinted with permission from Lori Michiel. 

Lori Michiel, NASM, has been assisting seniors in their homes since 2006 with customized exercise programs including those designed to address Parkinson’s, metabolic disorders, arthritis and diabetes. These adaptive programs are specifically designed to improve balance, circulation, flexibility, mobility and promote independence. Lori Michiel Fitness has over 40 certified trainers who are matched with clients in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties. Connect with Lori at www.LoriMichielFitness.com.

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Did You Hear? Stretching is Back in Fashion, Part 2

For any person, a regular stretching routine can bring some surprising benefits. While you might think that stretching right before activity is beneficial, it needs to be done on a regular basis for a minimum of 10 minutes in order to bring some major changes to muscles and tendons. Research shows that people with the least flexibility have increased chances of injury…

Use Exercise Bands to Boost Your Cardio Endurance and Reduce Inflammation

Researchers studied 1,544 people age 50-plus. Some of those in their 80s had the lowest inflammation levels in their bodies because they took care of their health. This included cardio exercises along with resistance – weight training with weights and bands, stretching for flexible joints and mobility. Even in extreme old age, centennials showed positive outcomes when they exercised. Low levels of inflammation were also an important predictor of people’s cognitive function, especially those in the oldest age group.

Lori Michiel in her studio

I’d have to say that of all the exercises I do, I love anything aerobic (getting my heart rate up) the most.  Walking, jogging, biking and dancing are the most common forms to get your motor running and is a great way to shake off the cobwebs. Any quick, sustained movement can increase your heart rate.

Before you start moving around, think about what motivates you to push a little harder. Are you interested in exercise to reduce stress and shake off the blues, lose weight, build a healthier brain (cognition), or make new friends?

Researchers say those who believed exercise was good for stress reduction valued it more with increased age. Motivation to move when reaching 60-plus can yield different benefits. For instance, people who exercise experience less inflammation in their bodies. Inflammation can lead to illness (stemming from a lower immune system) and difficulty losing weight. Losing weight can be especially troublesome if you have joint issues (hip, knees or back). With each pound you lose, the equivalent of four pounds of pressure can be released.

The combination of cardio mixed with bands is one solution for cardio exercise to keep inflammation at bay. It is fun. Be creative and you will never get bored. In this month’s Exercise Snack Video, I will show you a few quick examples. Pay close attention to my cues on form and technique and in the long run (pardon the pun), you’ll have fun!!

Side note: The familiar tune of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” has been used for medical training for some time. It has the right beat — not to mention the perfect title — for providing CPR’s chest compressions at the right pace to revive a patient. Try playing it sometime when you exercise.

Reprinted with permission from Lori Michiel. Originally published on Lori’s Fitness Blog For Active Adults and Seniors.


Lori Michiel, NASM, has been assisting seniors in their homes since 2006 with customized exercise programs including those designed to address Parkinson’s, metabolic disorders, arthritis and diabetes. These adaptive programs are specifically designed to improve balance, circulation, flexibility, mobility and promote independence. Lori Michiel Fitness has over 40 certified trainers who are matched with clients in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties. Connect with Lori at www.LoriMichielFitness.com.

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Do Vacations Change You for Good?

Did you ever think after your vacation you’d come back a transformed person?

lori-michiel-vacationWhen my husband and I returned home from our vacation last month, I noticed, other than the obvious feelings of content and relaxation, my clothes felt looser and I felt recharged. No challenge was too big. A bit grandiose, I know.  However, it was short-lived, except I kept the weight off, and refrained from consuming caffeine and sugar. Around the time I had finished three loads of wash, I felt practically back to normal. Time fades. I still felt reinvigorated, but the shift towards normalcy was advancing.

Vacations are supposed to be about creating balance in our lives. Who am I, what is my purpose and why do I do what I do? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but at 61, I have more than I did at 16. I know that a timeout and real rest is healthy for the soul. It is not so important whether you take a trip or not, as long as there is some form of escape.

In the meantime, I plan to seek some form of meditation I can stay committed to (no luck so far). I have returned to work, continue to read my business journals, and create fun and educational videos for my friends and clients. I am doing the best job I can.  So for now, since none of my favorite TV shows are on, I may even pick up another novel to read.

Prepare yourself for the things that matter and have fun when you can.

Reprinted with permission from Lori Michiel. Read more from Lori at her website, lorimichielfitness.com


Lori Michiel NASM-CPT is the owner of Lori Michiel Fitness. She is a trainer, teacher and passionate advocate for fitness. I specialize in helping active adults and seniors fulfill their physical potential and experience the joy of being healthier and more active in their lives.