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How Exercise Impacts Parkinson’s Disease

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A report based on the findings of researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden was published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology. The study showed it is possible to lower the risk of acquiring Parkinson’s disease by doing some medium exercises daily.

The disease is a degenerative neurological disorder where the brain does not produce enough dopamine. Most patients are at least 50 years old. Parkinson’s affects one in every hundred with a few symptoms, including:

• Tremor
• Slow movements
• Lethargy
• Rigidity
• Sleep disturbance
• Masked face

Although Parkinson’s is quite common, there is still no exact evidence that points to the real culprit behind the disease. Nevertheless, treatments and medications are available. After the research has been published, many patients with Parkinson’s are enrolled in an exercise program as part of their multidisciplinary therapy.

The Role of Exercise

People who exercise daily even though they have Parkinson’s disease have seen an improvement in their case. Evidence has shown that regularly exercising can reduce the symptoms that they are experiencing, allowing them to move forward and have a better life.

Regular exercising can provide multiple benefits for the patients, including:

• Improved manipulation over gross motor movements like walking
• Increased health and fitness of the cardiovascular system
• Strength and flexibility of the muscles
• Improved posture
• Better balance and coordination
• Reduced cramping of the muscles
• Reduced stress levels
• Better mobility of the joints

Exercising Guidelines for Parkinson’s Patients

To get started, Parkinson’s patients should know that exercise for them is different than those who do not have their disease. The exercises should be mild and definitely not intense. At least 15 minutes a day of medium exercise is already enough for the patients.

A thorough stretching routine is needed in the exercise program as this targets the muscle and joint groups. Additionally, there should be at least a few minutes of warming up and cooling down, such as stretching and marching in place. It is recommended that patients start with the easiest exercise they can do, especially for those who are not physically fit to begin with. As fitness increases, the difficulty can increase as well, though it is not recommended to strain the patients into heavy activities.

If the patient does feel tired even when the exercise is not over yet, he or she should be allowed to rest; otherwise, the symptoms may worsen. If there are also exercises that cause pain, they should be stopped and not be practiced again.

While exercises are recommended, patients or their loved ones are encouraged to consult with their doctor, healthcare professional, or physiotherapist first before they undergo any exercise program, regardless of the intensity.