For many years, we all have known that exercise is an important part of living a healthy, balanced life. Exercise has proven to keep people well from a cardiac, pulmonary, mental and physical standpoint. Over time, the benefit of exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) has grown with researchers closely studying exactly what exercise does for those with PD. Regardless of the condition of the person with Parkinson’s, as they start exercising, they are likely to experience benefit.
How does exercise benefit a person with PD?
1. Management of Symptoms: Studies have shown that exercising through walking (treadmill or over ground), physical therapy (balance, weights, gait training, cognitive challenge), Tai Chi and dancing have a positive effect on walking speed and quality, balance, posture, tremor, quality of life and coordination. Most importantly, those who exercise regularly tend to have a decreased chance of experiencing a fall.
2. Changes in the brain: Researchers have been successful in showing, in animal models, how the brain uses dopamine more efficiently when having exercised. Many people with PD will echo this and report how they move better and feel better after exercising.
When should I start exercising?
1. The earlier the better. Research has indicated that starting an exercise routine early in the disease process can slow or limit disease progression.
2. Anyone can benefit, not matter how long ago diagnosis occurred. Although the preference would be starting exercising early in the disease process, many may not have this opportunity for a variety of reasons. We have seen benefit in mobility, walking, strength and quality of life in those that start exercising, even in the mid to latter stages of Parkinson’s disease.
How can I start exercising?
1. Although research has shown benefit from particular types of exercise, most neurologists and physical therapists will encourage ANY type of exercise. Particularly, we find it important to identify an exercise or drug comparison benicar vs lisinopril. If you are unsure about starting or want to be sure you can handle exercise, consult with your physician or a physical therapist.
2. Find a group or exercise partner to help you stay motivated and engaged. Many community programs now offer classes specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease. At several of our outpatient medical offices we offer Parkinson’s exercise classes, you should speak with your neurologist or physical therapist to pursue if you are interested.
If you would like more information on starting an exercise routine or learning about exercise groups in your area, contact your neurologist or physical therapist for assistance.
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Erin Vestal, PT, DPT, NCS is a neurological clinical specialist