Reader’s Question: I’m struggling to manage my Parkinson’s disease. Because I’m having trouble controlling my movements, I’m not getting out much anymore. What can I do?
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: It’s the oldest “resolution” in the book — and it’s also the one least likely to stick: the pledge to get more exercise more in the New Year.
Millions of people join gyms at the beginning of the year… only to stop going by February!
But when you’ve got Parkinson’s, you really want to make that resolution a permanent promise — because exercise can put the brakes on your symptoms.
As someone who’s lived with Parkinson’s for over a dozen years, I know that it can be tough to get moving when your muscles are stiff as a board and your limbs won’t cooperate.
But studies have shown that exercise can actually improve your mobility, balance, and flexibility… and even stop the progression of the disease in its tracks.
Yet we didn’t know exactly WHY — until now.
According to a new study, exercise may slow the progression of Parkinson’s by setting off a chain reaction that keeps more of your precious brain cells ALIVE!
In the study out of the University of Colorado, researchers put running wheels into the cages of mice that had been altered to model Parkinson’s disease in humans.
Some of the mice got “working” running wheels that they could scamper on to their hearts’ content, while a group of control mice got “locked” running wheels that wouldn’t move.
After three months, it turned out that the mice that ran on the wheels had better movement ability and cognitive function than the control mice.
The exercising mice also had an increase of a key gene called “DJ-1” in their brains — and that, in turn, prevented a protein called “alpha-synuclein” from building up in their gray matter.
And that’s the “smoking gun” here, because people with Parkinson’s are known to have clumps of alpha-synuclein in their brains — and that buildup is thought to cause the death of critical brain cells.
Any amount of exercise is better than none — but studies have shown that the more vigorous your routine, the more benefits you may reap.
Getting your heart pumping with “cardio” workouts like boxing and bicycling can boost blood flow to the brain and keep blood vessels flexible. And sweating can help clear out the toxins!
Have a question for me? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I may answer yours next week!
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
High-intensity exercise delays Parkinson’s progression, published online, news.northwestern.edu/stories/2017/december/high-intensity-exercise-delays-parkinsons-progression/