Dementia rates are believed to triple in number by the end of 2050 as the ageing population is steadily increasing in number and so are sedentary lifestyles and environmental toxins that can accelerate the onset of dementia including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (PD). PD is a progressive disease that primarily affects movement (balance and coordination are impaired) causing tremors. Some individuals suffer greatly such that even holding a glass of milk in their hand becomes a problem! Though there are several medications available exercise remains the foremost important intervention in the life of a PD patient as it helps in restoring mobility, balance and the ability to perform daily routines. Even research shows that Parkinson’s patients who exercise for at least 150 minutes every week experience a minimal decline in quality of life. Read more about dementia, its impact on the person affected and attending and also about Parkinson’s disease by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Exercise is a great intervention not only for PD patients but for the general population as well for their well-being but not many people acknowledge its advantages and pursue physical activity on a daily basis. Following a regular workout schedule becomes even more difficult for people with chronic illness such as Parkinson’s as their physical and mental illness act as greater obstacles. To derive a solution for this problem, a study funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research & Development called the Park-in-Shape study tried for a practical solution to overcome this hurdle. All the participants were divided into two groups and members in each group had motivational apps that showered them with rewards on completion of their exercise schedule. One group was the control group that performed only stretching exercises while the other was the active intervention group that was asked to cycle on a stationary bicycle for 30-45 minutes at home on at least three days a week.
Those on the active bicycle group were also given the option of motivational games that helped them improvise on their exercise routine, race against their own previous performance or even against another group of cyclists. The levels depended on the patient’s heartbeat and the challenges increased in levels as the participants got fitter. All the participants in the intervention group followed the exercise schedule diligently for 6 months at the end of which each of them had better cardiovascular fitness. Motor disability of this group was almost lower by 4 points compared to the control group which was significant compared to medical drug interventions generally used on Parkinson’s patients.
Exercise improves PD patients in two ways-first, it helps them manage their symptoms in a better way by reducing stiffness and improving mobility and balance. Second, it slows disease progression by reducing the risk of falling and preventing changes in the brain that are effects of PD progression.
The fact that the exercise routine could be carried out at home without any external intervention is a great advantage of this study as it is hardly feasible for those with PD to go out for activity on a regular basis. The gaming approach used while exercising is a great way to motivate patients to work out regularly and this could also be used in those with other disorders to benefit them.
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