New Study Shows That Intense Exercise Slows Parkinson’s Disease
In a new study conducted by a team of researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Colorado School of Medicine it was found that the progression of Parkinson’s Disease can be slowed by several days of intense exercise a week in early cases. Geoffrey Rogers was one participant grateful to experience the benefits.
Parkinson’s disease affects 1 million Americans with 60,000 new diagnoses every year according to the Parkinson’s Foundation which funded this particular study as well as the National Institutes of Health. Parkinson’s Disease affects the part of the brain responsible for movement by killing or impairing the little gray cells. This disease manifests itself in subtle ways, like balance and walking, that can steadily become more and more difficult. The study took researchers a total of 5 years to complete and was published in JAMA Neurology on Monday.
Geoffrey Rogers was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease shortly after he began to have difficulty with his hands trembling. At the Rush University Medical Center, Rogers found out that he could be part of a new clinical trial for those with the neurodegenerative condition.
Another clinical trial would be necessary to confirm the efficacy of such workouts for Parkinson’s Disease, but for Geoffrey Rogers the results were remarkable. In the years since he started the intense workout regimen the benefits have not changed.
“When I would finish one of the sessions there would be a calmness. The tremor would be calm,” Rogers stated. “I can’t speak as a researcher or as an authority on this, but the cumulative effect was that the tremor was less intense going forward. When I finished with a workout, the tremor would be under control, I wouldn’t be going crazy with it. And that would last 20 minutes, an hour.”
Daniel Corcos is one of the study’s lead authors who holds a doctorate in Kinesiology and is a professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He said the improved blood flow to the brain might explain the successful results. He also said: “The real question is: Is there any disease or any disorder for which exercise is not good? I haven’t found any. The earlier in the disease you intervene, the more likely it is you can prevent the progression of the disease. We delayed worsening of symptoms for six months. Whether we can prevent progression any longer than six months will require further study.”
In the exploratory study, Rogers and the 127 other participants were broken down into 3 groups which consisted of: those who followed a vigorous weekly workout, those who followed a moderate exercise regimen, and those who did not exercise at all. All exercise was limited to the treadmill only and no medications were taken for the duration of the trial. For those who followed the vigorous workout, their aerobic capacity was increased to 80-85%.
“It’s clear that exercise is good for Parkinson’s patients,” said Dr. Lisa Shulman from the University of Maryland School of Medicine who does her own experiments on exercise and Parkinson’s. “The evidence is really very strong at this point. There is sufficient evidence now to warrant a general recommendation.”
Rogers, who owns a construction business, ceased to continue with his workout regimen after the study ended 4 years ago. His Parkinson’s disease has become more pronounced. He plans on going back to working out and cutting back on his work schedule. Daniel Corcos says that the exercise has to be “a sustained lifetime commitment” for those with Parkinson’s in order for them to witness and retain the benefits.
It is exciting to see the benefits of exercise for those with Parkinson’s disease and to consider the potential it may hold for other neurodegenerative diseases as well. Promising research continues to be published concerning the brain, and hope grows a little brighter for Rogers and others with Parkinson’s disease as they continue to be proactive concerning their condition.
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