Parkinson's Disease is a progressive degenerative neurological condition which results in the loss of control of body movements. Whilst individual symptoms will vary between person to person, the main symptoms of Parkinson's include, limb tremors, limb stiffness or rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of body movements) and difficulty with balance and walking. Symptoms usually develop slowly over a number of years and the rate of progression will vary between individuals. According to The Brain Foundation Australia, Parkinson's currently affects 1 in 100 people over the age of 60 and scientists are yet to determine a cause or develop cure for the condition. However; research has shown that exercise may reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's and has also been proven to reduce some of the motor symptoms associated with the disease.
Additionally, people with Parkinson's often experience accelerated muscle weakness, a decrease in power and increased levels of fatigue. Research shows that in people with Parkinson's, exercise not only improves muscle strength and function, it also improves postural stability, coordination, endurance, cognitive function, gait disturbances and overall quality of life. One study has shown that people with Parkinsons's Disease who exercises regularly for 2.5 hours per week had a smaller decline in mobility and quality of life over two years. Did you know!? In addition to regular exercise's such as walking, swimming and cycling; that dancing has shown to improve people with Parkinson's walking performance! Not only this, some patients with Parkinson's who have lost their ability to walk independently find they can comfortably hit the dance floor and waltz or tango the night away! It is suspected the auditory cues of the music, utilize alternate pathways of the brain, improving motor output. In line with this, rhythmic auditory stimulation is known to enhance walking performance in people with Parkinson's, which is why you may see people with Parkinson's exercising to music! Exercise is an appropriate mode of treatment for people throughout all stages and severity's of the disease. Individuals should engage in a tailored exercise program including a combination of cardiovascular fitness, strength training, balance, coordination and endurance. If you're currently living with or would like reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's, an Exercise Physiologist can help you determine an appropriate exercise program, specific to your condition, severity of symptoms and lifestyle!