Exercise is non-negotiable

The research is pretty clear that to manage your Parkinson’s well, exercise is non-negotiable. Ask any PD Warrior and they will tell you the healthiest and happiest people with Parkinson’s tend to be the ones who have higher levels of activity.

Two recently published studies worth mentioning at this time of year are the Systematic Review (SR) update by Gamborg and colleagues and the paper by Johannson and colleagues.

Systematic reviews are interesting because they critically appraise all relevant research on the topic. Given this particular SR only looked at randomised clinical trials, we can be pretty confident of the summary. This SR looked at the results of three different types of exercise and their expected outcomes across multiple different papers; resistance training, endurance training and other intensive exercise modalities (OITM). This paper was able to show that resistance training had a positive impact on muscle strength, functional capacity and quality of life. Endurance training had a positive impact on cardiorespiratory fitness, functional capacity and a potentially positive impact on both “on and off” motor function. The paper found that although the results were stronger for the first two exercise groups and ‘other’ is a catch-all group, the OITM exercise category was also found to be safe, feasible and a beneficial adjunct.

The second paper is very exciting as it is one of the first to show structural changes in the Parkinson’s brain as a result of exercise. The authors of this study were able to demonstrate that aerobic exercise is associated with enhanced connectivity within the brain (re-wiring) and reduced global brain atrophy (shrinkage). This paper shows what has long been thought… that exercise drives change at the cellular level and it is proportional to the fitness improvements.

So what does this mean for you? Pick your activity and get out there and get moving! The 10 Week Challenge is an excellent starting point. At the end of the challenge you should expect to be in peak physical and cognitive condition and able to resume or start an activity that will keep you moving long term. New year, new you!

Follow the links below to view the full article:

  1. Parkinson’s disease and intensive exercise therapy — An updated systematic review and meta-analysis
  2. Aerobic Exercise Alters Brain Function and Structure in Parkinson’s Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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September – Stephen Knox

Stephen attends our ARC clinic weekly for PD Warrior group sessions and you will also recognise him from our Thursday online gym sessions.
He is tenacious in his commitment to exercise and fighting Parkinson’s and does an outstanding job putting into words his Relationship with Parkinson’s…
Past, Present and Future, by Stephen Knox:
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June – John Lake

Looking back, some indicators of PD had been there for maybe up to two years before my diagnosis in April 2019. Principally my hand writing (I am R hand dominant) was becoming more and more laboured. Some eight months earlier I had decided to learn the violin, so the clincher became that I could not bow smoothly with my right arm, which became increasingly frustrating for me and my teacher. My father was afflicted with Parkinson’s late in his life, so all added up, the diagnosis was just a confirmation of what I already suspected.

January – Julio d’Escrivan

Julio is the perfect example of dreaming big and not letting Parkinson’s Disease put a ceiling on what you think you can achieve. Remember your goals and achievements are specific to YOU. Your marathon might be successfully walking around the block. Your Ironman might be climbing a set of stairs with more confidence. I hope you find Julio’s story as motivating as I did:
I am a composer of music for audio=visual media and a Senior Lecturer in Music and Sound for The Screen at the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire…


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