In a research study published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, researchers from Northwestern University determined that that people who exercised regularly had significantly slower declines in HRQL (health related quality of life) and mobility over a two-year period.
While this is not particularly groundbreaking information, the study is significant in that it did look at a larger group of patients (3400) over a longer period of time (2 years).
The most important finding from this study is that while exercise benefits everyone with Parkinson’s Disease, the health benefit of exercise is even more significant for people in more advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease. This should be a call to action for making exercise and physical activity more accessible to Parkinson’s patients with more severe disability.
There was a recurring theme in some of my dreams when I was younger…I’d try to run, but despite my best efforts, I was unable to make any forward progress. It was never a situation where I was running away from something, more like I was trying to run toward something. I’d get frustrated, trying to move my legs faster, but I would seem to be running in place. After some period of frustration, it would hit me…I’d remember that I could fly, I just needed to use my arms.
Flying dreams were the best. I’m certain these dreams were inspired by my having watched the Greatest American Hero TV show at an impressionable age. Thankfully, my flights did not require a special form fitting body suit provided by aliens. Let’s face it, even by dream standards, that would be weird.
I’m a relative newbie to PD, having been diagnosed 2-1/2 years ago. Since that time, I’ve had the pleasure to meet individuals who have lived with Parkinson’s for 10 to 20 years, and more. The common theme for living well with PD is regular exercise. The sooner that you learn to love to exercise, or at least find an exercise program that you enjoy, the better off you will be.
You need to think of exercise as your most important prescription, something that you need to make time for almost every day. Exercise is more important than any medication. (But medication is often necessary or helpful to maximize your ability to exercise.)
At the recent World Parkinson Congress 2016, the main theme that I noticed is that exercise is the best medicine for PD. It may not be as effective at treating PD symptoms as l-dopa, but all the research and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that collectively, those who exercise regularly enjoy a far better quality of life with PD, for a longer period of time, as compared to those who do not. While medical research continues to be important, the best thing that can be done for the growing number of People with Parkinson’s (PwP) today is to encourage exercise.
There is a growing consensus that more exercise is better, and there is concern that many PwP are being given outdated or incomplete exercise recommendations.
Here are a few key quotes for his lessons learned:
What have I learned?
Firstly, don’t accept the limitations others may predict, assume, or recommend because of Parkinson’s disease. I don’t, and won’t, accept that my physical capacity is any less than that of anyone else. Parkinson’s disease has been an inconvenience, not an obstacle, for strenuous, physical activity…