Exercise & Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a chronic unavailability of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, resulting in physical, psychological and social dysfunction. Major symptoms involve muscle tremors and rigidity, slow movement, and difficulty initiating walking (or freezing). Other symptoms involve: pain, bladder dysfunction, fatigue, sleep disorders, depression and cognition impairment. These symptoms often lead to a decline in the quality of life of patients.

Research has shown that leading a physically active lifestyle can improve quality of life of patients and delay or, in some instances, even reverse functional decline. This is due to a concept known as neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways throughout our lives. Physical activity (PA) interventions can reduce PD symptoms by releasing proteins that are used to increase oxygen transport to the brain, promote new cell growth, improve overall survival of brain cells, and promote dopamine synthesis in remaining dopaminergic cells. This increase in dopamine synthesis is a particularly important side effect of exercise as it has been shown to reduce PD related motor symptoms.

Regular moderate to vigorous-intensity PA has a positive effect on non-motor symptoms such as fatigue, depression, cognition and insomnia. Regular PA also reduces the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, osteoporosis and cognitive impairment. Walking can be improved by implementing visual or auditory stimuli (cues) that are generated either by the patient or in the environment to facilitate automatic and repetitive movements. Furthermore, these cues may be used to help the patient to maintain balance and initiate walking movements after a period of freezing. Balance training and moderate-intensity treadmill walking can improve postural stability and walking efficiency and speed.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and would like to see how exercise can benefit, book an appointment with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Absolute Balance for a consultation. You can contact us at info@absolutebalance.com.au.

Nicole Barber (B.Sc. – Exercise & Sport Science)
Accredited Exercise Scientist (AES) (ESSAM)

P 9244 5580 – M 0422 486 943  – F 92445582



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