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Show 1090: How Intense Exercise Benefits Parkinson Patients

Forced or intense exercise can effectively ease many symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Others also benefit from high intensity interval training.
Show 1090: How Intense Exercise Benefits Parkinson Patients
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How Intense Exercise Benefits Parkinson Patients

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Parkinson’s disease makes it difficult for people to move. In addition to tremors or twitches, people with Parkinson’s often feel stiff and find it difficult to walk easily. Their handwriting shrinks, and their voice may become hoarse or soft.

How Intense Exercise Affects Symptoms:

While there are medications to treat Parkinson’s disease, recent research suggests that patients with this condition can benefit greatly from forced exercise: that is, exercising quite a bit faster and harder than they normally would choose. Dr. Jay Alberts tells us how he discovered these benefits on a tandem bike ride with a patient. Then he describes his research and its implications. Patients doing forced intense exercise had about 30 percent improvement in their symptoms compared to those doing voluntary exercise.

Is Intense Exercise Practical?

You’ll learn about a program at the YMCA that is designed to provide forced exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease. Kathy Helmuth explains how she and her colleagues have implemented the program at the Sarasota, FL, YMCA.

How Do the Rest of Us Benefit from Intense Exercise?

People with Parkinson’s disease are not the only ones to reap unexpected benefits from intense exercise. Dr. Jordan Metzl tells us about high intensity interval training and how it affects the brain as well as the muscles. In his popular group training in New York City, participants have a huge range of ages and fitness, and all have fun and improve their health.

This Week’s Guests:

Jay Alberts, PhD, is Vice Chair of Innovations within the Neurological Institute and researcher in the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering of the Cleveland Clinic. He has been leading the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Program and research for 15 years and is successfully translating observations in the field to the laboratory and now to the larger community of PD patients.

His articles have been published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews (Oct. 2011);  IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (May 2013); Brain Connectivity (2013); BMC Neurology (Apr. 24, 2015); Parkinson’s Disease (Nov. 23, 2016); International Journal of Exercise Science (Jan. 1, 2017); and Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry (June 12, 2017).

Kathy Helmuth, RN, is the co-creator of the Parkinson’s Cycling Coach Training program. She is a wellness professional at the Sarasota, Florida, YMCA. The photograph is of Kathy Helmuth and two participants in the program.

Jordan D. Metzl, MD, is a nationally recognized sports medicine physician, best selling author, and fitness instructor who practices at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Dr. Metzl is putting his ideas into practice as he pioneers the link between the worlds of medicine and fitness to promote health. He created the IronStrength community fitness program which provides free fitness classes tor thousands of New Yorkers each year to promote activity and wellness and is teaching other physicians around the world to do the same.

Dr. Metzl has written many books, including his most recent, Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription: 10, 20 & 30-Minute High-Intensity Interval Training Workouts for Every Fitness Level.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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