Aerobic Exercise Can Help To Slow Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Written by: Justin Cowart
I’m sure that you have heard that exercise is good for you. It helps your back, bones, heart and so much more.
But did you know that in a new study from the Mayo Clinic has shown evidence that aerobic exercise may actually help to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease?
Activities that include using an elliptical machine or even just taking a brisk walk can be great ways to exercise. Neurologist from the Mayo Clinic, J. Eric Ahlskog, Ph.D., says that,
“Aerobic exercise means vigorous exercise, which makes you hot, sweaty and tired.”
With that being said, it doesn’t mean that balance or stretching exercises are not helpful, notes Dr. Ahlskog. These types of exercises help a great deal with Parkinson’s symptoms, such as slowed movement, rigid muscles, impaired balance and posture.
To help fight against the progression of Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia – which is one of the most highly feared long-term outcomes of this horrible disease – Dr. Ahlskog looked to new scientific studies that demonstrate that aerobic exercises help to enhance factors that potentially have a type of protective effect on the brain.
For instance, aerobic exercises help to liberate trophic factors, such as small proteins within the brain that tend to behave just like fertilizer does when you apply it to your lawn.
In Dr. Ahlskog’s book called The New Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Book, which further explores the amazing benefits of aerobic exercise. To help the brain maintain connections, exercise helps to counter brain shrinkage from Parkinson’s disease as well as from the brain aging, which further helps to explore the benefits of aerobic exercise.
In an editorial that was published in Jama Neurology, Dr. Ahlskog creates the case that our modern physical therapy practices should really incorporate aerobic exercise training and strongly encourage fitness for all patients who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
As a society, Americans are unfortunately becoming increasingly sedentary. That being said, it raises a particular challenge for patients with Parkinson’s disease to even begin – let alone maintain – aerobic exercise.
Dr. Ahlskog goes on to say,
“That is where a physical therapist might serve a crucial role in helping to counter Parkinson’s disease progression. The physical therapist could identify the type of exercise that would appeal to the individual, initiate that plan and serve as exercise coach.”
As we all know, with or without Parkinson’s disease, aerobic exercise routines take hard work and ongoing commitment from everyone to follow through.
Here are a few tips from Dr. Ahlskog:
- Start slowly: Talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise program and then work your way up – 15 minutes, 30 and more. “Life is a marathon rather than a sprint,” Dr. Ahlskog says.
- Set goals: Aim for an average of 45 minutes to an hour of vigorous activity four times a week.
- Do what you love (or tolerate): If you hate riding a stationary bike, try a ski machine or stair climber. Take a brisk walk – outside, at the mall or on a track. “There is no one-size-fits-all program for exercise and all aerobic exercise options should be on the table,” Dr. Ahlskog says.
- Push yourself a little: If you’re walking a track, for example, try to pass other walkers. If you’re doing repetitive exercises, slowly increase the number of repetitions.
Dr. Ahlskog strongly emphasizes one important component of any exercise program for Parkinson’s disease:
- Be certain that you have worked with your doctor to optimize your medication, specifically carbidopa/levodopa. Once patients with Parkinson’s disease slow down, adequate carbidopa/levodopa is necessary to optimize quality of life and facilitate engagement in exercise.
If Dr. Ahlskog continues with his research, it seems that we may be able to either weaken the ravages of Parkinson’s disease, or at least lengthen patients time so as a collective society, we can rid the world of this disease all together.
We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!
Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
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