Loss of motor skills is one of the most debilitating side effects of Parkinson’s disease and can lead to significant mobility issues. Physical therapy and exercise has been shown to slow the progression of this side effect. The latest research advises that high-impact activities may be the best option for the early stages of Parkinson’s. The primer below explains what you need to know about these kinds of exercises.
The Benefits of High-Impact Activities
What Does “High-Impact” Mean?
High-impact exercises are those that challenge your joints. Low-impact exercises, by contrast, are gentle on your joints. Common examples of the former include running, jumping rope, step aerobics, and plyometrics. The latter generally comprises yoga, swimming, and stretching. High-impact exercises tend to be intense, increasing the heart rate rapidly and leading to a greater calorie burn. They also help strengthen bones and muscles. While many people worry about the toll these exercises take on the body, the stress involved can actually generate more muscle mass.
How Do High-Impact Exercises Help With Parkinson’s Disease?
In a study published in JAMA Neurology, medical researchers found that performing high-impact exercises three times each week slowed the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. The trial included 128 participants aged 40 to 80 years old living with early-stage Parkinson’s and taking no medication. After 6 months, those that exercised at 80 to 85% of their maximum heart rate showed a significant decrease in Parkinson’s side effect progression compared with a group that did not exercise.
How Can I Incorporate These Exercises?
Although promising and part of a growing body of research, the results of the trial need further study. In addition, high-impact exercises may not be suitable for everyone at every stage of the disease. Always speak with your physician before trying any new exercise regime, whether it’s a gentle tai chi program to improve balance or a vigorous, heart-pumping dance class.
If you or a loved one needs assistance managing Parkinson’s disease, Connecticut Advocates for Parkinson’s in Windsor, CT, will help. Their volunteers provide a number of health care resources and can connect you with exercise classes, clinical trials for Parkinson’s, and other support systems. Visit their website to learn how you can benefit from or contribute to their cause. Call (860) 266-6040 today to speak with a representative. For regular news and updates, connect on Facebook.