There’s no question that exercise has a positive impact on patients living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). It’s been shown to slow the progress of tremors, improve balance and mobility, and allow for the continuation of daily activities. Beyond PD-specific symptom management, though, lies the significant impact exercise can have on the more intangible, but very real aspects of living with PD, things like depression, memory loss, and low self-esteem.
Unweighting tools like AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ technology can help reduce body-weight load during exercise, allowing patients with PD to exercise for longer durations while monitoring their gait, preventing injuries and falls, and incrementally increasing exercise intensity. It’s working out, but it’s working out smart: with the help of AlterG technology and a qualified physical therapist. Patients can participate in a workout program that’s tailored to their specific symptoms, needs, and progression.
The results can be remarkable.
A review of published research on treadmill training turned up 3 studies in which exercise had an immediate impact for PD patients. After just one treadmill bout, the subjects of these studies showed increases in walking speed and stride length as well as marked improvements in balance. Long-term effects of the other studies included: better gait mechanics and speed, improvements in daily function and fall safety, and overall reduction of PD symptoms.
So, we’ve established that exercise is extremely beneficial for patients with PD, but what types of exercises are best? According to the Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Centre, “There is increasing evidence that aerobic and learning-based exercises could be neuroprotective in aging individuals and those with neurodegenerative disease. Facilitating exercise programs that challenge our heart and lungs as well as promote good biomechanics, good posture, trunk rotation and normal rhythmic, symmetric movements are the best.” Examples of such exercises could include walking at different speeds and inclines, dancing, yoga, Tai Chi, hiking using a walking stick and practicing stepping over obstacles, sports requiring hand-eye coordination (i.e. tennis or golf), and swimming with varying strokes and with the eyes open (combining cardiovascular training with motor learning).
Now, you know how we feel about exercise, and as you can guess, we are pretty jazzed about what our AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ has to offer those with PD who are seeking to reap the rewards of “getting physical.” Our gently supportive, fall-safe environment allows patients to focus on their workout, rather than on the constant fear of taking a tumble. This means that even PD sufferers with severe mobility and balance impairments can rediscover the sheer joy of pain-free, unrestricted movement again, a joy that PD has callously robbed from so many.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again (and again… and again…): exercise is THE answer! We don’t even have to look at the question anymore. Here at Premier Clinic, our mission is to make this “medicine” accessible to all, regardless of their ailment. For those of you with PD, we hope that we can help you take your first steps toward a better, brighter tomorrow. We may not be able to defy Parkinson’s just yet, but we sure can defy gravity.