Approximately 500,000 people in the United States and nearly 10 million individuals all around the globe live with Parkinson’s disease. Researchers at the University of Southern California learned that regular exercise stimulates the release of dopamine, which can reduce Parkinson’s symptoms. However, research conducted in 2011 revealed a specific form of exercise can have a dramatic positive impact on the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute neuroscientist Jay L. Alberts participated in a Parkinson’s charity bike ride in 2003. He rode a tandem bike across Iowa with a female partner who had Parkinson’s disease. Whatever speed at which Alberts pedaled, his partner was forced to pedal as well. During the journey, his partner found that her upper body functions increased.
In 2006, Alberts went on a long-distance bike journey with another person living with Parkinson’s disease. The man’s symptoms were so severe that he required insertion of a bilateral deep brain stimulation implant to reduce his tremors. Before the bike ride, he turned the implant off. After completing 15 miles of the journey, the tremors disappeared.
While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease at present, there are a number of ways older adults can manage the symptoms of this condition and lead healthier lives. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional in-home care. Anchorage, AK, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Uncovering the Mystery
Dr. Alberts and researcher Chintan Shah joined other scientists from the Cleveland Clinic to study the benefits of cycling for 26 volunteers aged 30 to 75. The group consisted of people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s symptoms. The participants were divided into two groups. One group cycled at their own pace, while the other group cycled at a forced rate. The bikes used in the forced group were equipped with motors to make the users pedal faster. The participants cycled for 40 minutes three times each week for two months.
After the volunteers rode their bikes, they reported experiencing a variety of benefits, including enhanced mobility, reduced tremors, increased alertness, and a heightened sense of smell. The benefits lasted for up to four hours after each riding session.
Each participant also underwent MRI tests before the study began, after the research concluded, and again four weeks later. The scientists used MRI imaging studies to evaluate functional connectivity in the participants’ brains. The MRI images displayed oxygen changes within the brain, which provided information as to which regions of the brain demonstrated activity and how different areas communicated with each other. The researchers used the images to compare brain activity between members of the two groups.
Helping a senior exercise and make healthy lifestyle choices can be a difficult task, especially if he or she has a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s disease. Home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
The research revealed fast pedaling caused an increase in brain activity that was still present one month after the study ended. However, Dr. Alberts advised that while the forced pedaling provided better results, seniors with Parkinson’s disease need not exercise as intensely to enjoy the same benefits.
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