Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurological condition that affects the movement of individuals. Typically Parkinson’s disease is recognized by a shuffling gait or resting tremor. Over the years research has concluded that exercising with Parkinson’s disease may be the most beneficial form of treatment.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition involving the extrapyramidal part of the nervous system, causing impairment in motor function. Both genetics and environmental factors are risk factors, though no known cause has been identified. Parkinson’s is associated with a reduction in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps signals travel between neurons to complete movements. The reduction of dopamine results from the death of dopaminergic cells that live within the basal ganglia and produce dopamine. Symptoms of Parkinson’s do not occur until loss of these dopaminergic cells is greater than 80%.
As Parkinson’s progresses everyday tasks become more challenging. Exercise has been shown to reduce the challenge associated with everyday tasks. Those with Parkinson’s are encouraged to move each and everyday in order to maintain neural connections often affected. Unfortunately, a cure for Parkinson’s has not been found therefore the connections will continue to diminish, but exercise has been shown to slow the rate. Exercising with Parkinson’s requires focus on balance, strength and flexibility.
Those with Parkinson’s are at an increased risk for falls due to shuffling gait patterns. Improving upon scenarios that may be challenging specific to individuals will help to limit falls and reduce further complications.
Everyday activities become more challenging as strength declines. An emphasis on strength will allow individuals to maintain their quality of life.
Another common symptom of Parkinson’s is rigidity that occurs, especially for those who do not exercise often. Rigidity makes it more challenging for movement to occur. This also creates a challenge for aides that may be involved in the care process. Flexibility should be included in all exercise programs.
Whether a recent diagnosis has occurred or a loved one has lived relatively symptom free it’s important to get started. Movement is key in maintaining a greater quality of life for those with Parkinson’s. A walk everyday may suffice at the moment. As the disease progresses it may be best to hire experienced professionals to provide proper exercise programming.