Regular exercise under the supervision of an Exercise Physiologist can help to improve coordination, gait, balance and decrease stiffness for people living with Parkinson's disease. Kieser Exercise Physiologist, Ben Milner, shares some insights on how exercise can help manage the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive condition caused by damage to the part of the brain which produces dopamine. This dopamine deficiency causes a poverty of movement which is recognised by the most commonly known Parkinson's symptoms; tremor, rigidity (muscle and joint stiffness) and bradykinesia (slow movement). Before these motor symptoms are detected other changes may be happening which often go unnoticed including loss of smell, difficulty sleeping/restless in bed and deterioration of fine motor skills such as handwriting.
Currently, one in every 340 people in Australia lives with Parkinson’s Disease which makes it more prevalent than many cancers including breast cancer, leukaemia, kidney cancer and lung cancer. Parkinson’s disease affects between 1-2% of individuals over 65 years of age, with approximately 6 million peopled affected worldwide.
Risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include age, genetics, exposure to pesticides, head injuries and stress. Prominent signs of Parkinson’s disease include; rigidity, resting tremor, postural instability, slowness of movements, muscle weakness, impaired balance, reduced walking speed and step length (shuffling), increased number of falls, fear of falling, depression and fatigue.
Falls risk increases significantly in individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, research shows that 70% of those with Parkinson’s disease fall annually, and 13% fall multiple times weekly. Increased frequency of falling can cause injuries, fear of falling and contribute to inactivity and a reduced quality of life.
How can exercise help?
Regular exercise is extremely important in managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Benefits of regular exercise can include increased health related quality of life, muscular strength and endurance, balance, mobility and walking speed.
Likewise, regular exercise has displayed a reduction in falls and near fall events, as well as a reduced falls risk and fear of falling. Exercise guidelines for Parkinson’s disease recommend 4-5 days per week from 40-60 minutes, made up of low-moderate aerobic exercise, strength training, mobility, stretching and balance exercises.
Falls and Balance classes
Falls and balance group classes are currently running at a number of Kieser clinics. Prior to attending a class, you must undergo an initial consultation and balance assessment with a Kieser Exercise Physiologist, who will provide you with an exercise program tailored to your level of ability. If you feel like balance and risk of falling is an issue, please visit your local Kieser clinic for more information.
By following your training program your balance will improve over time reducing the risk of falls and imbalances.
The 11th of April is World Parkinson’s Day, which is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, visit your Exercise Physiologist at Kieser today for a tailored exercise program.
Article written and sourced by Ben Milner from Kieser Brighton