Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease that affects thousands of people of all ages around the world. Thankfully, movement can dramatically improve the lives of those suffering from the condition, says ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie.
“Exercise needs intensity and also a cognitive function – engaging the mind and the body – to have the best effects,” he says. “So, things such as dancing, or workouts with certain types of agility components, can be the most effective.”
Beddie recommends trying different forms of exercise after seeking the help of a medical professional. “People with Parkinson’s should get good advice; work with their doctor or physio and then an exercise professional that has specialist training,” he advises. “Parkinson’s is a progressive, neurological disease, with no cure. Symptoms and progression can be managed as exercise helps.”
Parkinson’s has numerous symptoms, including tremors, stiffness, slow movement and a loss of balance. “Exercise increases the body’s response to dopamine cells in the brain, thus slowing the progression of the disease in some people, and helping to manage the symptoms in others,” Beddie says. “Balanced exercises assist with reducing falls. People with Parkinson’s are at greater risk of falls.”
The exercise expert recommends a minimum of 20 minutes of mild exercise per day to see best results. This could include anything from a walk on the beach and yoga to dancing and water aerobics. “Exercise activities such as walking or dancing are steps in the right direction for people living with Parkinson’s disease.” He adds that it’s important to begin exercising as early as possible. “Getting exercise in early after diagnosis is key for the best outcomes.”