In the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), targeted and structured exercise can significantly improve agility and ease of everyday movements.
Contemporary research has shown that specific and targeted exercise while physical symptoms are mild, can slow down the progression of symptoms by making new nerve connections in your brain that help you move freely and with less effort. This process is called neuroplasticity and offers real hope for Parkinson’s sufferers. Hills Physiotherapy are proud to offer a program called Mountain Movers; designed specifically for people who suffer from PD, run by qualified movement experts (Physiotherapist / Exercise Physiologist), and delivering measurable improvements in balance, movement and function.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition affecting around 10,000,000 individuals worldwide and 100,000 Australians. 30 people are diagnosed daily with the condition which is more common in men than women. It affects the body’s central nervous system which is responsible for automatic and voluntary movements such as walking or going up steps.
The levels of dopamine in the brain start to reduce which can cause tremors, slow and small movements, speech difficulties, rigidity/stiffness and difficulty multi-tasking. Being diagnosed with PD can be very emotional, due to the prevailing impression that it results in steady deterioration of condition and loss of independence, with very little to slow the progression other than medication.
Improving Your Condition With Regular Exercise
A growing body of research has suggested that this may not be the case, showing that those who increased their physical exercise early in the disease progression were able to slow the progression of symptoms and in some cases completely remove the need for medication. It should be noted that this doesn’t mean the disease is cured – it will ultimately result in loss of function and earlier morbidity, but with regular exercise this is prolonged and quality of life significantly improved.
Current recommendations are that sufferers should increase their physical activity to at least 2.5 hours per week to ensure optimal benefits for the musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular system, and the brain.
We have understood for millennia how benficial exercise can be for the body, but only recently are we starting to grasp the effect it has on helping remodel the brain by stimulating development of new neural connections, improving the immune cell function supporting the brain, and increasing blood flow to ensure adequate nourishment of neurons.
For further information on the effect of exercise on mental health, please read the blog by our Exercise Physiologist Miranda Morris here.
Our Mountain Movers program consists of a 10 week course with one class per week of one hour duration. Additionally, participants are encourage to do a further 1.5 hours per week (ie three sessions of 30 minutes). An initial consultation is required to determine current functional capacity, and to allow planning for functional goals and exercise progression within the program. At the completion of the program these tests are repeated, giving an objective and quantifiable result for the participant.