In my late 40s I began noticing minor problems in the way my body moved an my energy levels. I couldn’t explain my fatigue, reduced coordination, loss of muscle tone, and a constantly stiff shoulder except to blame “getting old”. Getting old? Really?
Finally, in December 2011, at the age of 53, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Suddenly every symptom made sense. As the saying goes, adversity is better than ambiguity
, meaning it’s easier to deal with the devil you know than the one you don’t. A new chapter of my life had begun and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the final one.
Now, almost 5 years later and as I learn more and more about PD, it has become clear that while there are still a lot of unknowns about PD, one important
thing that is known is that certain types of exercise can promote brain plasticity, or “rewiring”. In theory, new neurons could grow around areas of the brain rendered dysfunctional by diseases like PD in much the same way a road detour is constructed to get around a highway over pass that has collapsed. While building a detour around a dead, damaged or diseased area in the body is a relatively common phenomena in other parts of the body, it has long been considered rare, if it occurs at all, in the brain.
In the few short years since my diagnosis the thinking about how – or even whether – the brain can rewire itself has been revolutionary. Now we know that exercise - specially exercise in combination with challenging cognitive tasks – can induce brain rewiring. Today for anyone living with PD there are 3 things you should know with respect to exercise and how it relates to slowing progression of this insidious neurodegenerative disease:
Right now, exercise is the best medicine to slow progression of Parkinson’s disease.
- Neuroplasticity is real; the brain CAN re-wire itself;
- Neuroplasticity can be stimulated with a combination of certain types of physical and cognitive challenges;
- To date this is the ONLY therapy - including ALL of the currently available drugs for PD - that has been clinically proven to slow progression of PD.
Wow! Get exercise and eat your peas. Straight from your mother’s mouth when you were a kid. Who knew Mom knew about brain plasticity before neuroscientists did!
Most people with PD will benefit from physical therapy managed by a professional with specialized skills and training in dealing with PD. Likewise, if you choose to work with a personal trainer, they too should be trained to specifically address the needs of a client with PD. Getting a referral from your neurologist for a qualified Physical Therapist is pretty straight forward. Finding a qualified personal trainer with specialized skills working with PD clients, not so easy.
That’s where Chris and Roya and their personal training experts come in. Their company, called Reneu Health, specializes in helping people with neurological challenges, including PD. They know exactly what type of exercise program will benefit you the most. There trainers all have skills and knowledge relevant to working with a PD client.
Reneu Health, specializes in helping people with neurological challenges, including Parkinson’s Disease. They know exactly what type of exercise program will benefit you the most. There trainers all have skills and knowledge relevant to working with a Parkinson’s Disease client.