Spring is here and it is time to get active!Bicycling is a great way to blow off winter’s cobwebs; it is a fabulous exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Parkinson’s symptoms may include slowed motion, stiff muscles, tremors, impaired balance, speech problems, difficulty swallowing, dementia and depression. Bicycling has been proven to help curb symptoms or prevent an earlier onset of symptoms.
While there are several well-known exercise programs, bicycling is the most popular exercise choice for people with PD. A study done by the Neuro Challenge Foundation examined the benefits of bicycling in PD patients. Results stated that pedaling reduced speech problems and improved gait and balance difficulties. Many of the participants in the study had trouble getting on and off their own bikes but as they continued exercising for several weeks, they were able to walk without assistive devices, such as canes or walkers. They were also able to mount their bikes independently. Some proudly said they were standing up straighter. Friends even told them their facial expressions had returned.
Even more surprisingis the discovery that a person with PD learns to bike faster after having ridden a tandem bike. Cleveland Clinic researcher, Jay Albertsdiscovered participants who had used a tandem bike increased their speed by over 30% of their preferred pace. During tandem biking, the non-PD partner may push the person with PD to pedal faster and somehow creates a muscle memory for the higher speed. Researchers admitted they do not yet know how or why this muscle memory is established.
Pedallers also gain social and mental benefits from biking. Parkinson’s patients frequently suffer depression, which can be caused either by hormonal imbalance in the brain or from the circumstances of adjusting and managing the disease. Generally, exercise improves physical health and in turn, increases feelings of success and confidence. Additionally, the camaraderie that some Parkinson’s patients experience in biking class provides support and boosts the morale. Biking is a great way to moderate the severity of down moods.
Most often, people with Parkinson’s disease start their biking journey using stationery recumbent bikes or a stationery tandem style bike. With time and practice to gain skill, they can buy graduate to the bike path and do some “free” wheeling!
Sources: Drweil.com and the Denver Post.
Lee Nyberg serves seniors through her company, Home Care Assistance. Home Care Assistance is proud to offer care to Parkinson’s patients. Our Care Managers train and supervise caregivers to support our clients in living their best lives. We provide older adults with a higher class of care that enables them to live happier, healthier lives at home, even with significant health issues, like Parkinson’s. Our services are distinguished by the caliber of our caregivers, the responsiveness of our staff and our expertise in Live-In care. We embrace a positive, balanced approach to aging centered on the evolving needs of older adults. For more information visit our website: HomeCareAssistanceOmaha.