Pedaling for Parkinson’s: How riding a bike can help control Parkinson’s Disease symptoms

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease that results in the degeneration of neurons in the brain that help to control movement. This leads to a reduction in the amount of dopamine produced, a neurotransmitter, which in turn cause the movement impairments that characterize the disease. Commonly seen symptoms in Parkinson’s patients include stooped posture, forward head, shuffling gait pattern, tremors, rigidity, and sleep disorders. However,there is hope! Exercise to the rescue again…read on:

In 2003 Dr. Jay Alberts, a researcher at Cleveland Clinic, was riding across Iowa on a bike trip well known in the Midwest as Ragbrai. He was cycling with Cathy Frazier who had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). While on the trip, Cathy and Dr. Alberts noticed that her penmanship, which was previously illegible due to PD had become much larger and more legible. In addition Cathy stated “for this week it did not feel like I had Parkinson’s”. Upon completion of the bike trip, Dr. Alberts retested Cathy’s motor system and the results showed a 35% decrease in the disease rating scale as compared to 6 months earlier. This finding led Dr. Alberts to begin researching the effects that exercise, specifically cycling, can have on motor function in individuals with PD. This research led to the finding that a cadence of 80-90 RPM (revolutions per minute) for 40 minutes, 3 times per week can decrease symptoms by 35%. These findings led to the development of the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Program. This cycling program is slowly being started at YMCA’s around the country to enable those with PD to have a monitored exercise program.

What can this mean for you or someone you know with PD? The research supports that high intensity cycling with these parameters helps for symptom management with a cumulative effect. This information continues to emphasize the importance of exercise, regardless of circumstance!

To learn more about Pedaling for Parkinson’s, click on the link below.

www.pedalingforparkinsons.org  

Have a great day,

Brandis Graves,Physical Therapist, Bellingham, WA