Podcast: Prescribing Exercise to Treat Parkinson’s

Pedaling for a Parkinson's Cure and Enjoying the Ride

Trial participants power through a stationary bike workout for the “Pedaling for Parkinson’s” study at the Frank Berlin YMCA in on April 2, 2013. (Herald-Tribune staff photo by Elaine Litherland)

While much research into Parkinson’s disease (PD) focuses on improving dopamine supply, there is an emerging scientific understanding that Parkinson’s goes well beyond the dopamine system. This has led to a new research focus on targets other than dopamine, and on non-drug interventions such as exercise, to treat PD and improve patients’ quality of life.

Bastiaan Bloem, MD, PhD, drew an interesting conclusion from his observation of a Parkinson’s patient who could bicycle long distances without interference from his symptoms. “If debilitated people could exploit other areas of the brain, apparently in restoring movement, that would open up avenues for new treatment. The road is blocked, but you can still take another street and reach your destination,” said Dr. Bloem, a consultant neurologist at the Department of Neurology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands.

He spoke with MJFF Contributing Editor Dave Iverson for the latest in the MJFF Parkinson’s Podcast series. They’ll be joined by Maurizio Facheris, MD, MJFF associate director of research programs, for our next Hot Topics Webinar on “Going Beyond Dopamine” on Wednesday, October 30, from 12 to 1 p.m. ET.

“In my clinic, exercise is prescribed like a drug,” Dr. Bloem said. “The symptomatic effects are fairly well underpinned, whether or not it changes the course of the disease is belief, and I think belief, hope and positive attitudes are a crucial component of the effectiveness of any intervention.”

Listen to the Podcast on the benefits of exercise with Parkinson’s disease

Learn more about exercise and Parkinson’s disease