Have you been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and worried about what the future holds?
Do you want to optimise your quality of life now and in the future?
Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating disorder, where nerve cells in a part of the brain that produce dopamine are affected.
The nerve damage affects the brain’s control of the muscles, which causes shaking (tremor), increased muscle stiffness, slowed movements and balance problems.
Parkinson’s disease also affects your thinking abilities, especially the ability to control and regulate behaviour, and may cause anxiety and depression. Drugs can control the symptoms in most patients, but unfortunately only for a limited time.
How can exercise help?
Exercise benefits the health and wellbeing of people with Parkinson’s disease in many ways. By increasing fitness, exercise protects against many complications of the disease. For example, better mobility may improve quality of life and prolong independent living.
Exercise may also have positive effects on mood and improve brain function and make drug therapy more effective. It also provides a means by which individuals can actively participate in the management of their disease.
Walking speed in people with Parkinson’s disease is related to muscle strength in the legs, so exercise programs focuses on increasing leg strength are beneficial.
Programs using resistance training like Clinical Pilates, increase muscle mass and strength, and also improve step length, walking speed and walking distance.
Rhythmic stimulation of the brain via the eyes or ears while walking can help, and balance training combined with resistance training (like Clinical Pilates) can improve balance and stability.
‘Cueing exercises’ involve walking while listening or seeing cues that mimic the rhythm of walking. These exercises can help improve your walking movements and overcome difficulty with gait initiation and freezing.
‘Dance’ provides exercise to music that can facilitate functional and expressive movement. It also provides important social interaction and can lead to improvements in perceived quality of life.
‘Dual tasking’ exercises, where a secondary task (like counting backwards) while walking can help. These exercises usually try to improve one aspect of walking at a time.