Exercise is a hot topic in Parkinson’s disease and additional neurodegenerative diseases because we continue to discover its “neuroprotective” benefit. What does “neuroprotective” even mean? How can all of the exercise research be translated into everyday life activities? What I like to explain to our patients is that exercise can help DELAY the rate of disease progression.
How powerful is exercise?
As one of the physical therapists (PTs) on our team, I will admit that I have a predisposition to be biased when it comes to exercise. But, if you think about it, exercise is one potent and cost effective treatment for your disease. You don’t have to have a prescription, nor do you have to pay a large fee to your ever changing insurance company to acquire exercise. Exercise also has many less side effects than medication. Exercise is one of the best modalities to manage not only Parkinson’s disease but also heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and arthritis (just to name a few).
Are you convinced yet?
One question I hear most frequently is from patients and their loved ones is: “what is the BEST exercise for Parkinson’s disease?” The research continues to flourish and support various types of exercise such as forced cycling and progressive strength training. I appreciate the evidence and always look forward to reading more and more in favor of exercise. Unfortunately not all patients have access to local gyms, expensive bicycles, or personal trainers.
So how do I translate the evidence about exercise for patients?
What I tell patients during our first evaluation is that the BEST exercise for you is the one that you:
a) LIKE to do
b) Will enjoy performing on a regular and consistent basis
c) Have access to complete whether you are home or traveling
d) Will be able to perform for the rest of your life
At this point in time, I feel the BEST type of exercise for management of your disease and to promote health, wellness, and longevity is CONSISTENT exercise.
How do YOU get started with an exercise plan for Parkinson’s disease?
PT tips that you might hear during a consultation include:
“Put one foot in front of the other! Walking is very beneficial for Parkinson’s disease. An easy way to progress your walking is to use a pedometer to track your steps.”
Checking in with your physical therapist can be helpful to establish, revise, and progress your exercise regimen to ensure that you are on track. 2014 is nearing an end and the New Year with all of its resolutions will be in full swing in the next few weeks. I encourage you to put exercise at the top of your list next year!
For more information contact our therapy department to check in with our team! (352) 294-5385.
A few select articles of MANY articles supporting exercise:
1. Ashlskog, E. Does Vigorous Exercise have a Neuroprotective effect in Parkinson Disease? Neuology 2011; 77: 288-294.
2. Deslandes A. “The biological clock keeps ticking, but exercise may turn it back.” Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2013 Feb;71(2):113-8.
3. Earhart GM, Falvo MJ. Parkinson disease and exercise. Compr Physiol. 2013 Apr;3(2):833-48.
4. Ellis, T.,deGoede,C.J.,etal.,2005.Efficacy of a physical therapy program in patients with Parkinson’s disease: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 86,626–632.
5. Frazzitta G, Balbi P, Maestri R, Bertotti G, Boveri N, Pezzoli G. “The beneficial role of intensive exercise on Parkinson disease progression”. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Jun;92(6):523-32.
6. Hass CJ, Buckley TA, Pitsikoulis C, Barthelemy EJ. Progressive resistance training improves gait initiation in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Gait Posture. 2012 Apr;35(4):669-73. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.12.022. Epub 2012 Jan 23.
7. Loprinzi PD, Herod SM, Cardinal BJ, Noakes TD. “Physical activity and the brain: A review of this dynamic, bi-directional relationship.” Brain Res. 2013 Nov 20;1539:95-104. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.10.004. Epub 2013 Oct 9.
8. Zigmond MJ, Smeyne RJ. Exercise: Is it a neuroprotective and if so, how does it work? Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2014 Jan;20S1:S123-S127
*Thank you to our stellar OT student Darcy Loveland for modeling.