The effects of remaining physically active throughout aging are tremendous, but for those with Parkinson’s, it may truly be a game-changer in the progression of the disease. Several recent studies are revealing direct links between exercise and Parkinson’s, including the largest clinical study to date, in which patients who exercised a minimum of 2½ hours per week achieved a higher quality of life than those who refrained from physical activity. And that’s just the beginning.
The onset of Parkinson’s symptoms occurs following loss of the brain cells that produce dopamine. Researchers believe that exercise enables the brain to restore lost connections, form new ones, and maintain those that are still in place. Additional studies show:
- Gains were realized in stride length, gait speed and balance following treadmill exercise – after as little as just one session, and lasting for several weeks afterwards.
- Motor function and coordination were improved in those who pedaled at a faster rate on a stationary bike – again, with results lasting for weeks after the study ended.
- Noticeable improvements in the normalcy of movement were discovered in those with Parkinson’s who engaged in a routine exercise program compared to those who did not.
It’s important to note that the results achieved were dependent upon consistent, ongoing exercise. The clinical tests revealed that any protective benefits realized were discontinued when the amount and intensity of exercise was reduced or was implemented for only a short period of time. The necessary criteria for sustainable results seem to be the same as those required to help those who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke: intensity, specificity, difficulty and complexity.
Additional research is underway to hone in further on the benefits of exercise in those with Parkinson’s disease, and the precise reasoning behind it. In the meantime, if your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it’s certainly beneficial to talk with his or her primary care physician for a recommended exercise regimen.
For assistance with safe, dependable transportation and accompaniment to a doctor’s appointment or exercise program, or encouragement and motivation to engage in an ongoing exercise regimen at home, call North River Home Care at (781) 659-1366. Our professional in-home care services are available to enhance quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease, or any other condition of aging throughout Norwell, MA and the surrounding area. Contact us to learn more.