We all know that, with few exceptions, exercise benefits people of all ages throughout every stage of life. But did you know it’s even more important for people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or a related neurological disorder. Researchers have conducted myriad studies that show exercise can significantly slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease and its symptoms.
Many of us feel helpless in the face of a major disease diagnosis, but those newly diagnosed with PD have the power to materially delay the onset and worsening of symptoms through exercise.
All of our muscles will gradually become weaker as a normal part of aging, but people with PD tend to lose strength more quickly in certain important muscle groups. The major leg muscles involved in walking, sitting and standing are significantly impacted, in particular:
- Quadriceps & Hamstrings – the large muscles in the fronts and backs of our thighs, respectively
- Gluteal Hip Extensors – the muscles in our behinds, which are critical to sitting down, standing up and propelling ourselves forward
- Ankle Dorsiflexors and Plantar Flexors – the muscles that allow us to pull our toes up (dorsiflexion) and point our toes (plantar flexion)
PD also tends to cause weakness in important muscles of the trunk or core, including:
- Trunk Extensors – the group of muscles running along the spinal cord that help with bending and posture, among other everyday movements
- Respiratory Muscles – the muscles that facilitate breathing, the most familiar of which is the diaphragm
- Pelvic Floor Muscles – the muscles that facilitate bowel and bladder control