Can Exercise Reduce Impact of Parkinson’s Disease?

Research has shown that exercise may help numb the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve quality of life by increasing muscle flexibility and improving movement.

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurological diseases globally. It occurs when nerve cells located in the substantia nigra part of the brain gradually decrease over time. These nerve cells produce a chemical called Dopamine which acts as a messenger between the brain and nervous system. Parkinson’s disease causes these cells to become damaged and over time, can reduce by up to 80% in the brain. The effects of this can be tremors, stiff muscles and slow movement. Research has shown that exercise may help numb the symptoms of the disease and improve quality of life.

Recently, studies have shown that exercise may help with those with Parkinson’s disease improve their quality of life and ability to move around. Research from American Academy of Neurology found that even if exercise doesn’t reduce the risk of falling, it can improve balance and flexibility.

In order to prove their findings, 231 people with the disease either took part in 45-60 minute exercise programme which focused on improving balance and leg strengthening or did their usual care routine. The exercises took place three times a week for 6 months and prescribed and monitored by a physical therapist. The majority of those who took part in the exercise programme did so at home with minimum supervision.

A common ailment with Parkinson’s disease sufferers is falling over. Over 60% suffer from falls each year and two-thirds falling repeatedly. This can lead to «pain, limitation in movement, injuries and a fear of falling over again which can affect people’s well-being», said research author Colleen G. Canning, PhD, of the University of Sydney in Australia.