Parkinson's Movement
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exercise, 10% not 100% improvement / symptoms

When unmedicated patients were examined shortly after a forced exercise session, their brain activation patterns resembled those seen when they were on medication. “People like to say that ‘exercise is medicine,’ and it looks like we’re actually showing it,” he says.

“People often ask me: ‘what’s the best exercise for PD?’ At the moment, my answer is ‘any exercise that you’ll do,’” Alberts says. “Hopefully, we’ll soon have more data to give a very specific recommendation.”

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Going for regular brisk walks may improve symptoms among people with Parkinson’s disease and boost their quality of life, according to a preliminary study.

“Exercise is medicine for Parkinson’s,” Jay Alberts, from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute in Ohio, told Reuters Health.

“This shows it doesn’t necessarily have to be super high-intensity exercise,” Alberts said. He studies motor function in Parkinson’s disease but wasn’t involved in the new research.

The study included 60 people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease who could walk independently without a cane or walker and had no other serious medical problems.

Researchers had the participants walk briskly, at an average pace of 2.9 miles per hour, three times a week for six months. Each walking session lasted 45 minutes. Participants kept diaries of each session and had trainers to help choose walking routes and collect the diaries.

When researchers compared results from a battery of tests conducted before and after the six months of regular walks, they found participants’ motor function, fitness, mood, tiredness, memory and thinking abilities all improved during the study, on average.

At first some participants also tried interval training - alternating every three minutes between slower and faster speeds - but researchers started assigning all new participants to continuous speed walking when knee pain became a problem in the interval group. There were no such side effects in the continuous speed group, according to results published in Neurology.

“We observed seven to 15 percent improvement in various symptoms that appeared to be clinically meaningful,” Dr. Ergun Uc told Reuters Health in an email. He led the study at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

12 Replies

YEAH!!!!! :)

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What is the point that you want to make? You provide URLs to two articles. The first article discusses Zigmond at the University of Pittsburg with animal models which is discussed in the well known PBS presentation by Dave Iverson, “My Father, My Brother and Me.” And Dr Alberts of the Cleveland Clinic findings involving Cycling during an annual Bike Tour across the State of Iowa. His observations were that pedaling at a Forced Rate, something approaching 90 cyles per minute, for Parkinson’s Patients resulted in an improvement of their Parkinson’s symptoms. Several short videos are available on Youtube on Dr Alberts’ cycling findings.

The articles seem to ask the question, “what bang do you get for your buck” (my words). For example, how intense does exercise need to be, to result in benefit? The answer is unknown? Tremendous amounts of further research would be needed to get at the answer.

Then there is your post title…..Exercise, 10% not 100% improvement / symptoms. Just looking at your title alone, what is your message? Is your message that gain form exercise being 10% is unimportant? Or that considering the notion “Exercise is Medicine”, that a PWP would receive more benefit from Medicine?

RoyProp, help me understand what you intend to be the take from your Post.



And the point is? Exercise doesn't work? It's all in the mind surely. Mens sana in corpore sano.


Now all I need is a speedometer! I try to walk 5,000 steps a day, anyway that's my goal. I almost always make it 2,000. I don't walk very fast but try to keep up a good pace.


I believe Royprop saying 10% not 100% improvement in symptoms because he is referring to his take on one of the articles. But that article is only describing the immediate and measurable benefits. 2 hours a day of >110 beats per minute exercise (heart permitting) over the long term, at least 2 weeks to a month, will do a lot more than 10% in life improvement for everyone, not just PD. 300% improvement should be what a zoned-out couch potato PD patient should expect from 2 hours a day aerobic exercise, especially if combined with lots of casual work and relaxed social interaction the rest of the day. The average improvement might be only 100%. Advanced cases may see only 10% improvement and slowing down of progression.


I agree that it's hard to see what Royprop's message is. And the quoted articles don't say a lot... they don't offer any explanation as to why improvements can be seen, about what's going on in the body. We all know exercise is good for heart, muscles, lungs, joints, bones, mood etc, but it's what is going on in the brain of us PwPs that is of greatest interest. I've collected some more specific findings from a stack of research on forced exercise and PD. Here's some of the discovered brain changes...

Exercise contributes to neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to change and compensate.

Exercise helps the brain use dopamine more efficiently. Animals which exercised possessed less of the dopamine transporter which normally 'tidies up' spare dopamine at the synapse, thereby more dopamine stayed around for use. (I believe this is what Rasagiline (Azilect) and Selegiline do)

Exercise was also shown to increase the D2 receptors so that the dopamine had more places to bind.

Intense exercise has also been shown to play a role in controlling glutamate. Dopamine is responsible for holding glutamate in check, so when dopamine levels drop in PD, a chain of events is set off that leads to a buildup of glutamate signalling. This surplus damages cells that control body movements.

Exercise also enhances the brain's ability to produce trophic factors, which may slow or halt the degenerative process in PD. GDNF is currently exciting the world of research. In Bristol, England , a current study is surgically planting a device into the brain of participants so that they can bypass the blood/brain barrier and put GDNF into the brain. Fast walking will do this without a device and an operation.

Finally can I quote Royprop of the ' only 10% improvement' the results of a study. After eight weeks of forced exercise this study found that rigidity had improved by 41%, tremors had improved by 38%, and bradykinesia by 28%.

Sorry I haven't referenced the quoted findings! No space!

Forced exercise (walking for me) is good for you! I rest my case.


Your particular references would have been helpful. Though the Dana link from Roy, is a good summary. It contains research links to all the topics You quote above.

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My worn-out knees just don't let me do what they used to. I do a brisk half-hour most days. But I get the impression if I can't go faster, longer, my exercise routine is of negligible benefit. Or am I misunderstanding?


...yes, that is what I understand...

Even with regular fast walking, only negligible results:

“We observed seven to 15 percent improvement in various symptoms that appeared to be clinically meaningful,”


Geez! Why bother?


I recommend continue exercise that does no harm but helps keep health/physical condition from deteriorating


This group has been a real boon to my morale and my knowledge. I look at the experience of group members as I trial and adjust my diet and other alternative home remedies. Read my Post history for more info. Thank you Becky


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