Maintaining Fitness and Mobility

Rick Barry, an HSP community member from NSW, tells his story . . .

I ‘retired’ from Basketball to start a family in 2000, and after a few years my son and I began to kick a soccer ball around. It was at these times that I noticed that the quick change-of-direction movements seemed a bit strange and awkward. I simply put it down to me not exercising as much as I was earlier in life and that I was just ‘getting older’, (if only it were that simple…)

After a couple of years of this awkwardness increasing, I visited a Neurologist based on my GP’s advice. This was the start of almost 12 months of testing until I was diagnosed with HSP.

I was dumfounded and it seemed like my life was turned upside down. Once I had come to my senses I decided to seek a second opinion to be sure this life changing diagnosis was not made in error. The second opinion directly reflected the first and it was from this point on that I truly admitted to having an ‘issue’ and began coming to terms with what was going on.

In the early days I mainly stretched my quads, hamstrings and calf muscles to maintain range of motion – strength wasn’t an issue back then. Then I progressed to specific exercises to address the bad habits I had developed over time, such as using the larger muscles to try to compensate for the smaller ones that weren’t doing their job properly.

I had regular Physio visits, saw an Exercise Physiologist and looked at alternative therapies, all the time searchng for that answer that we all long for. Anyway it wasn’t forthcoming, so what I have done is adopted a little bit from each person/activity to build a daily routine which works best for me.

Currently I walk unassisted and the following is what I have found works for me and I wanted to share it here and just maybe it may add ‘something to someone’.

I have 2 different programs that I alternate each weekday, and take weekends off to do family things.

Program 1

Qi Gong in the morning, (pronounced Chee Gong – and is in the Tai Chi family). This takes me around 10 minutes before work.

1 hour of Gym work. I had a program developed by a personal trainer at the gym concentrating on balance, core work and leg muscle exercises – none of this uses heavy weights.

At night I stretch all my leg muscles for around 15 minutes.

Program 2

Qi Gong in the morning

40 minutes of cycling

Qi Gong again at night

At night I stretch all my leg muscles for around 15 minutes.


I try to follow these programs as best I can. If there is a disruption to any of this, I simply do what I can (i.e. if its raining, I will cycle indoors).



  1. thank you for above, I have had a similar routine going but unfortunately had a fall broke my upper arm and am now back to square 1, have to get back to gym and cycling, using the pool seems to help also.

  2. hi thanks. I find cycling helps me, and stretching morning and night. I have had bowen treatment – helps too. cheers, never give up the fight 😀

  3. Its great to know that other people are doing similar things. I haven’t tried Bowen Therapy but have always wondered about it, I might give it a go – it cant hurt to try!!! 😆

  4. Rick, like your approach. I am still able to get around; I actually find running easier than walking so I endeavour to run at least 4 times per week over a variety of distances but usually around 8 to 10kms. I take it comfortably and around an hour is good – I find it easier to walk after a run. I have now undertaken 3 half marathons in the last 2 years, I find my fitness is good but in the last 3kms the legs are harder to get up – might be getting older but I will continue with this for as long as I can. Apart from that I have a son who is a personal trainer (wishes to be an exercise physiologist) who puts me through a range of abdominal, leg and upper body exercises – again the walking seems easier after doing it. Cheers and keep it up.

  5. Interesting to read your exercise program. I try and do an hour each morning, mixing up a light weights program with a stretching regime but any exercise gives me constant strong muscle pain. But if I do nothing, my flexibility and mobility suffer. I need crutches nowadays to get around and do so very slowly. Does anyone else suffer from chronic muscular pain from undertaking their exercise regime? Any ideas for relief? ❓

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