Parkinson’s Disease

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neuromuscular disease characterised by the gradual loss of nerve cells, leading to a decline in dopamine production—a crucial neurotransmitter responsible for coordinating movement. While the exact causes remain unknown, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to contribute. Men are more susceptible than women, and symptoms typically manifest in individuals aged 50 years and older.

The deficiency of dopamine results in disruptive symptoms that impact daily activities, including:

Tremors: Involuntary shaking of the body or voice, often more pronounced during movement or stressful situations but may also occur at rest.

Bradykinesia: Slowed movements affecting gait, reducing stride length and causing shuffling, along with extended durations for routine tasks.

Rigidity: Stiff and inflexible muscles limiting range of motion, affecting tasks like sitting or standing and causing fixed facial expressions.

Loss of balance: Resulting from freezing, poor posture, and muscle weakness, increasing the risk of falls.

Insomnia: Common in advanced Parkinson’s, exacerbated symptoms disrupt sleep patterns, affecting about two-thirds of those with the disease.

Psychological symptoms: Including anxiety and depression, often linked to unease regarding the condition.

Decreased bone mass: Linked to reduced mobility, increasing the risk of fractures in case of falls.

Exercise offers a multifaceted approach to addressing Parkinson’s symptoms:

Improved motor performance: Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to enhance physical functioning, leg strength, balance, and gait speed. Activities like squats can significantly improve daily movements, contributing to an enhanced quality of life.

Reduction in osteoporosis and falls: Parkinson’s patients are more prone to osteoporosis and falls, making it crucial to enhance bone health. Weight-bearing exercises such as jogging, stair climbing, and dancing, along with balance-related exercises and general strength training, can minimize the risk of fractures.

Psychological well-being: Physical activity has demonstrated positive effects on depression, self-esteem, and a sense of achievement in Parkinson’s patients. Engaging in regular exercise for at least 12 weeks has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms, with significant benefits observed after 3-12 months. Emerging evidence also suggests that aerobic and resistance-based exercise can help alleviate sleep disturbances, especially when implemented early in the disease’s progression.

References:

Bhalsing, K.S., Abbas, M.M. and Tan, L.C., 2018. Role of physical activity in Parkinson’s disease. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology21(4), p.242.

Bouça‐Machado, R., Rosário, A., Caldeira, D., Castro Caldas, A., Guerreiro, D., Venturelli, M., Tinazzi, M., Schena, F. and J. Ferreira, J., 2020. Physical activity, exercise, and physiotherapy in Parkinson’s disease: defining the concepts. Movement disorders clinical practice7(1), pp.7-15.

Tsukita, K., Sakamaki-Tsukita, H. and Takahashi, R., 2022. Long-term effect of regular physical activity and exercise habits in patients with early Parkinson disease. Neurology98(8), pp.e859-e871.

Reynolds, G. et al. The Therapeutic Potential of Exercise to Improve Mood, Cognition, and Sleep in Parkinson’s Disease. Movement Disorders. 31 (1), pp. 23-38 (2016)

Speelman, A. et al. How might physical activity benefit patients with Parkinson disease? Nat. Rev. Neurol. 7, pp. 528 – 534 (2011)

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn