“An estimated 100,000 Australian’s are living with Parkinson’s Disease and suffer from rigidity, restricted walking ability and limitations with other motor functions.” Exercise Right Australia.

However, there is an emerging body of evidence that suggests that exercise can change the brain in people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Cortical excitation, changes in grey matter and levels of a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic (BDNF) factor have been seen to change with exercise.

These changes are neuroprotective and neuroplastic and have been shown (in animal studies so far) to regenerate neurons and improve corticomotor excitation levels in the brain which assist with initiation of movement

What type of Exercise is Best for People with Parkinson’s?

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is described as continual movement to assist in the improvement of cardiorespiratory function. This includes walking, cycling, swimming and even dancing! Exercising to music specifically has seen some fantastic results in managing Parkinson’s symptoms.

Dance is an alternative form of exercise that is being utilised by therapists to help improve and manage the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Dancing is a fun and engaging way to participate in group exercise.

Some of these recommendations include; cueing strategies to assist with walking, cognitive movement strategies to assist with transfers eg- rocking in the chair forwards and backwards a set number of times before moving from sitting to standing, balance and joint mobility and power-based exercises.

It addresses the exercise recommendations for people with PD in the following ways:

  1. Music is seen as a way of cueing to assist with rhythm and movement initiation
  2. Dance involves teaching specific movement strategies
  3. It also addresses balance with change of direction, weight shift and arm movements.

dancing with parkinson class at your health hub

Your Health Hub Dancing with Parkinson’s group is run by our Physiotherapist Amanda on Wednesday

Balance Exercise

Balance difficulties also seem to be more pronounced in the backwards direction with falls more commonly occurring with tasks that require backwards movement or with perturbation in the backwards direction.

Declining balance is common as we age. Unfortunately, this is also common in individuals with Parkinson’s. Practicing both static balance and dynamic balance, in a range of different foot positions and environments are great ways to maintain and even improve your balance.

Difficulties with walking and balance are two of the common motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease and correlate with an increased incidence of falls.

Walking changes include freezing of gait, slowness of movement, short shuffling steps and a flexed posture. Aspects of walking that are commonly impaired include dual tasking, turning and walking backwards.

Tai Chi is a great option for balance training.

This class has been designed to challenge balance with weight transfer practice as well as coordination of arm and leg movements.

Difficulties with walking and balance are two of the common motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease and correlate with an increased incidence of falls.

Walking changes include freezing of gait, slowness of movement, short shuffling steps and a flexed posture. Aspects of walking that are commonly impaired include dual tasking, turning and walking backwards.

tai chi class at your health hub

Tai Chi class at Your Health Hub

If you know of someone who has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, an assessment with a Physiotherapist is essential for future management.

A Physiotherapist can equip you with the knowledge, skills and a high-intensity exercise program that may slow down the progression of the disease.

For more information regarding any of these classes, please contact Your Health Hub reception for further information on 03 6122 0150 or reception@yourhealthhub.com.au

Sources:

Earhart, G. M. (2009). Dance as Therapy for Individuals with Parkinson Disease. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine,45(2), 231–238.

Exercise Right Australia, EXERCISE FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE, https://exerciseright.com.au/exercise-for-parkinsons-disease/

Hackney, M. E., & Earhart, G. M. (2009). Backward Walking in Parkinson Disease. Movement Disorders : Official Journal of the Movement Disorder Society24(2), 218–223. http://doi.org/10.10

Exercise-induced neuroplasticity in human Parkinson’s disease: by Mark A. Hirsch in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders 2015