Exercise Slows Parkinson's

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Its symptoms usually come on slowly over a period of years. But the long-term impact of Parkinson's disease can be devastating. (KFSN)

Its symptoms usually come on slowly over a period of years. But the long-term impact of Parkinson's disease can be devastating. Thinking as well as moving gets much harder as the disease takes hold. However, sweating and moving can actually help slow down the disease.

Eight years ago, Steve Holland didn't know much about his next opponent. He only knew its name: Parkinson's disease.

Holland told Ivanhoe, "I knew it stole the ability to walk, balance, speaking. Parkinson's hits you in so many different ways."

Holland is among the growing number of patients who are using perspiration as much as prescription drugs to forestall Parkinson's symptoms.

Fay Horak PhD, PT, a professor of neurology and Parkinson's researcher at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon, detailed, "They know that the more active people are and the more fit they are, the better they can deal with Parkinson's disease. The higher quality of life they'll have, the more they'll be able to move and the more movement they do, the better their symptoms are."

Even playing piano exercises fine motor movements in the hands and the mind of Parkinson's patients like Dan Maxwell.

Horak said, "We hope it's challenging a number of things. We'd like to be challenging balance and gait and challenging cognition at the same time."

"The cure, whatever that might be, I think will be multi-faceted for one thing, but exercise will be the dominant piece of it," detailed Maxell.

Holland said, "You feel empowered when you exercise and you get in shape. You're not letting Parkinson's happen to you. You're doing something to fight back and to restore your confidence and your vigor."

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University are now studying exactly what areas of the brain share commands for physical as well as cognitive challenges and how keeping that area of the brain active can stall or slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

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