- Researchers report that vigorous exercise may help relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Experts say the benefits are evident in both the early and later stages of the disease.
- They add that exercise helps people with Parkinson’s disease by improving brain function, balance and mobility.
Intense exercise may slow the course of Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific progress.
In their research with laboratory rats, neuroscientists from the Faculty of Medicine of the Catholic University, Rome Campus, and A. Gemelli IRCCS Polyclinic Foundation identified a novel mechanism responsible for the positive effects of exercise on brain plasticity.
The scientists reported that activities performed in the early stages of the disease can have beneficial effects on movement control, even after stopping the exercise routine.
They said they believe people could potentially enjoy the same benefits.
“Although the benefits of exercise in Parkinson’s disease are well known, this important study suggests that exercise may be effective in slowing this progression, by reducing the aggregates of the abnormal protein alpha-synuclein in the brain,” said Dr. . Alessandro DiRocco, a neurologist. at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York
“While there [currently] are a number of medications and treatments that can alleviate the symptoms of the disease, there is no known treatment to slow the inevitable progression of the disease,” DiRocco said Medical News Today. “Exercise may therefore play an especially important role in the overall management of Parkinson’s disease.”
Experts say exercise plays a vital role in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. They also believe it can improve specific symptoms of some diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, a shuffling gait, and an overall slowing of physical movement. Exercise may be one of the best ways to combat the condition, according to the Harvard Health Letter.
How does it help?
“Exercise has been shown to stimulate the production of neurotrophic factors such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). These factors play a critical role in the growth, survival and maintenance of neurons. These play a critical role in the growth of new neurons, protect existing neurons, and improve synaptic connections,” said Jennifer Prescott, RN, MSN, CDP, the founder of Blue Water Homecare and Hospice.
“Exercise has been shown to improve mitochondrial function and promote their biogenesis (formation of new mitochondria). Healthy mitochondria are critical to energy production and overall neuronal health,” Prescott said Medical News Today.
According to dr. Daniel Truong, a neurologist and the medical director of The Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Institute at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in California, there are other ways exercise helps.
Truong listed some of these ways Medical News Today:
Reduction of alpha-synuclein aggregates: Intense exercise reduces the proliferation of pathological alpha-synuclein aggregates in the brain. These aggregates are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease and lead to the dysfunction and death of neurons.
Maintenance of motor control and visual-spatial learning: The research suggests that exercise may help maintain motor control and visual-spatial learning, which are often impaired in Parkinson’s disease due to the degeneration of specific brain regions (the substantia nigra pars compacta and the striatum).
BDNF and NMDA interaction: The study found that BDNF, whose levels rise with exercise, interacts with the NMDA receptor for glutamate, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. This interaction allows neurons in the striatum to respond more efficiently to stimuli, which has benefits beyond exercise practice.
Anti-inflammatory effects: Exercise is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in Parkinson’s disease.
“Regular exercise helps maintain motor function [Parkinson’s] patients and may slow the progression of the disease,” said Dr. Andrew Feigin, executive director of the Marlene and Paolo Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders at NYU Langone Health in New York.
“We routinely recommend that all our PwPs exercise regularly. Of course, patients have different capacities to exercise depending on many factors, including the severity of Parkinson’s, but we encourage exercise,” Feigin said. Medical news today.
“Our team advises everyone to exercise [Parkinson’s] patients,” added Dr. Melita Petrossian, a neurologist and director of the Pacific Movement Disorders Center and Pacific Neuroscience Institute in California.
“In the past, exercise recommendations may have been vague, for example, take an occasional walk. With a new understanding of the benefits of exercise, we offer more specific guidelines: This study and other studies emphasize that exercise should be of high intensity, while previous studies recommend intensity to reach 80 to 85 percent of maximum heart rate for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week,” Petrossian said Medical news today. “We naturally recommend that patients consult their doctor or cardiologist before embarking on an intensive program.”
“Typically, we advise patients to find exercises that have little or no impact while maintaining a high intensity, such as power walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary bikes, etc.,” Petrossian continued. “Also, consistent with previous studies, we recommended progressive resistance exercise with increased weights or reps in strength training twice a week. We also advise patients on stretching, balance exercises, core strengthening and skill exercises such as yoga, dance, boxing, ping pong and Pilates.”
“Exercise can relieve the symptoms of [Parkinson’s] in the short term, improve energy, improve stride length and balance, prevent falls, improve sleep and mood, and improve cognition,” she continued. “These symptom benefits are added to the long-term preventive benefits. In addition to the new study showing reduced alpha-synuclein propagation, the release of BDNF is neuroprotective. Exercise may also improve brain blood flow via angiogenesis.”
In their new study, the researchers looked at exercise in the early stages of the disease and reported specific and substantial benefits.
Exercise can also be helpful in the later stages and serve different purposes, experts note.
“In the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, the primary benefits of exercise could shift to maintaining mobility, strength, balance and flexibility, and improving quality of life,” Truong said. “As we know, exercise can also help manage symptoms such as constipation, improve mood and sleep. Balance exercises reduce the risk of falls.”
“However, it’s important to note that people in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease often have more severe symptoms and may also have other health problems,” Truong said. “Therefore, any exercise program must be carefully designed to ensure safety and effectiveness for the individual’s specific condition and needs.”
Adblock test (Why?)