Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Aerobic exercise benefits patients with Parkinson's disease

Public Release: 19-Jan-2016
Aerobic exercise benefits patients with Parkinson's disease
Mayo Clinic

You've likely heard this before: Exercise is good for you. It helps your heart, bones, back and more.

But here's one thing you might not have heard: Ongoing aerobic exercise may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system.

"Aerobic exercise means vigorous exercise, which makes you hot, sweaty and tired" says J. Eric Ahlskog, Ph.D., M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic. This could include activity such as walking briskly or using an elliptical machine.

That doesn't mean stretching or balance exercises are not helpful, Dr. Ahlskog notes. Those types of exercises help with Parkinson's symptoms, such as rigid muscles, slowed movement or impaired posture and balance.

But to help fight the progression of Parkinson's disease, including dementia -- one of the most feared long-term outcomes of the disease -- Dr. Ahlskog points to scientific studies that show aerobic exercise enhances factors that potentially have a protective effect on the brain. For instance, aerobic exercise liberates trophic factors - small proteins in the brain that behave like fertilizer does when applied to your lawn. Exercise helps maintain brain connections and counters brain shrinkage from Parkinson's disease as well as from brain aging, says Dr. Ahlskog, author of "The New Parkinson's Disease Treatment Book," which further explores the benefits of aerobic exercise.


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