Parkinson’s and Physical Activity

Angie Szumlinski News, Studies

It is no surprise to most of us that physical activity has long-lasting, positive effects on the human body. But a recent study published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease reaffirmed this long-standing belief. The study evaluated long-distance skiers and found that although their brains may have degenerative changes associated with Parkinson’s disease, they didn’t experience the physical symptoms usually seen as the disease progresses.

Their thinking is that there are three possible protective mechanisms of physical activity against PD:

  1. Greater resilience of the neurons against the neuropathology
  2. Less neuropathology
  3. Greater motor reserve so that the brain can sustain more damage before symptoms become apparent, similar to the concept of cognitive reserve in Alzheimer’s disease

Although there are many studies being done and many researchers’ opinions, PD is a catastrophic disease and any insight we can gain from studies such as this can only help in earlier diagnosis and treatment for those afflicted. The most salient differential characteristic among the study is their higher level of exercise which points to the protective effect of physical activity against PD. Now don’t go putting skis on your residents but be sure you are staying current with medical trends, medication studies, etc. as these may assist you in providing care for your residents.

Click here for the link to the study.