The Role of Exercise in Parkinson’s Disease Management

A senior man stands next to a treadmill as he uses exercise to improve Parkinson’s disease management.

Exercise offers hope for Parkinson’s disease management, with improvements in gait, balance, and motor function.

The effects of remaining physically active throughout aging are incredible. However for people who have Parkinson’s, it could truly be a game-changer in the progression associated with the disease. Several studies are uncovering direct links between exercise and Parkinson’s disease management, like the largest clinical study to date, in which patients who exercised no less than 2½ hours per week gained a greater overall wellbeing than those who refrained from physical exercise. And that is just the beginning.

The onset of Parkinson’s symptoms takes place following loss of the brain cells that produce dopamine. Experts believe that exercise allows the mind to recover lost connections, form new ones, and keep maintaining those that are still in place. Additional research has revealed:

  • Gains were discovered in stride length, gait speed and balance after treadmill exercise – after as little as just one session, and lasting for many weeks afterwards.
  • Motor function and coordination were increased in people who pedaled faster on a stationary bike – once more, with results lasting for weeks after the study concluded.
  • Noticeable improvements in the normalcy of movement were found in those with Parkinson’s who participated in a regular exercise program in comparison to those who did not.

It’s important to note that the results achieved were reliant upon consistent, ongoing exercise. The research results revealed that any protective benefits occurring were discontinued after 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 necessary to help those who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke: intensity, specificity, difficulty, and complexity.

Additional research is underway to hone in even further on the benefits of physical exercise in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and the precise reasoning behind it. In the meantime, if someone you love has been identified as having Parkinson’s disease, it is certainly advantageous to talk with their 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 take part in a regular exercise regimen at home, call Partners in Care at (530) 268-7423. Our professional in-home care services are available to boost quality of life for persons with Parkinson’s disease or another condition of aging throughout Auburn, Diamond Springs, Chico, and the surrounding areas. Contact us for more information.

Shaun Clinkinbeard