Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease can often be daunting and overwhelming. There is a lot you need to know to ensure you’re managing your condition as best as possible in a way that allows you to continue living your life.
Exercise has now emerged as a priority treatment to help those diagnosed live with their condition and manage their symptoms. In this blog, we will discuss the background of the condition, the types of exercise you should be participating in and where to get support.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition or ‘movement disorder’ that affects over 100,000 Australians. The average age of diagnosis is 65 years of age, but around 20% of patients that are of working age experience young-onset Parkinson’s. It is a complicated condition with varying symptoms that start to appear when the brain is unable to produce enough dopamine to control movement.
The causes of Parkinson’s disease are still not known, with theories stating that many factors relating to genetic change, environmental factors and oxidative stress, all contribute to the disease. Diagnosis can be difficult as there are no laboratory tests and often, patients are referred to a neurologist who assesses their clinical signs and symptoms. The main symptoms are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), postural instability and rigidity. People with Parkinson’s also experience non-motor symptoms such as sensory changes, pain, problems with memory, sleeping and thinking, depression and gastrointestinal issues.
To date, there is no known cure for Parkinson’s but there are many treatments available to allow people with the condition to lead an active and productive life. Research has shown that exercise plays an important role in slowing down the progression of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and helps to reduce its impact. As it is a movement disorder, it is vital that people with Parkinson’s engage in exercise and continue this routine to manage their symptoms.
There are many types of exercises that are beneficial and backed by research. Some of these include;
- Aerobic activity (walking or cycling)
- Strength training
- Tai Chi
- PD Warrior https://pdwarrior.com/
The best exercises are exercises that target a person’s specific symptoms. If you are struggling with your balance, then perhaps Tai Chi or yoga may suit you best. Activities such as dancing and boxing help to improve your coordination and agility. For managing sudden freezing of gait or restrictions in abilities to dual-task, e.g. perform two separate activities at the same time, there are specific programs such as PD Warrior that address these limitations.
Exercises can also be altered to target non-motor symptoms, such as memory and thinking clearly. Adding verbal tasks, such as naming streets or counting backwards in 3’s, can add an additional challenge. Engaging in exercise will also support many other areas of your health, such as your cardiovascular system, mental health, fatigue, pain levels and allow you to feel more in control.
There are many options for exercise groups that provide guidance from a qualified health professional to help prescribe appropriate exercises for your symptoms. Not only will you get the benefits of physical exercise, but you will also have the opportunity to socialise with other people in you’re the same situation and share your experiences.
The websites below offer more information. You can also watch our videos for some examples of where to start with Parkinson’s specific exercises on our YouTube Channel. You can find it here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSDyVUc_GtQM-eOWUW1lsPg
HOME | Parkinson’s Australia (parkinsons.org.au)
Parkinson’s Foundation | Better Lives. Together.
Exercise Right for Parkinsons
Exercise Groups and Support Networks
Exercise Based Parkinson’s Treatment – Live Brave – PD Warrior
Exercise – Shake It Up Australia Foundation
Written by Alexandra Green
Move Better for Life Tamworth
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