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Research Roundup: Exercise during Covid-19

2020 has been a challenging year for community-based exercise programs for Parkinson’s.

But these programs are needed now more than ever as people with the disease struggle to manage their symptoms and stay connected to others during the pandemic. Two recent research studies highlight the benefits of exercise to reduce the impact of home confinement and the promise of telehealth as a way to motivate people with Parkinson’s to engage in fitness programs.

Exercise and hobbies improve sleep

The sleep disturbances that are common in Parkinson’s may be increasing due to home confinement during Covid-19, according to a recent study published in Sleep Medicine. The authors of the study list a number of reasons for this increase, including fewer face to face social interactions, more screen time and an increase in stress from working from home and managing online schooling of children. Nearly one-fourth of the 832 respondents to the survey used in the study reported new onset or worsening of sleep disturbances during home confinement. The study also found that physical activity and adoption of new hobbies during home confinement was associated with better sleep. Read the full results online.

Telehealth coaching increases physical activity

Physical activity coaching delivered through a telehealth platform may improve utilization of the program and increase rates of exercise, according to a recent paper published in Physical Therapy. In the paper, clinicians at Columbia University Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence describe how the rapid modification of their coaching program to telehealth in response to the coronavirus pandemic increased recruitment and physical activity rates. The physical activity coaching program, called Engage-PD, helps to increase referral and implementation of exercise programs for people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s or in the early stages of the disease. Key components of the program include disease-specific education, personalized coaching by trained professionals and individualized goal-setting. Read the paper online to learn more about the program and the findings of the telehealth study.

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