Can Riding a Bike Relieve Parkinson’s Symptoms?

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Millions of adults in the United States live with the neurological disorder known as Parkinson’s disease. As the disorder progresses, seniors experience difficulty with physical movement and commonly develop involuntary tremors. Healthcare providers often recommend exercise to maintain flexibility and mobility. However, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that cycling was a preferred means of exercise for symptom reduction. 

Accidental Discovery During a Charity Bike Ride

In 2003, biomedical engineer Dr. Jay Alberts participated in a charity bike ride across Iowa to benefit Parkinson’s. During the journey, he rode a tandem bike accompanied by a woman with Parkinson’s. Whatever speed he pedaled, his partner followed automatically. After pedaling at a speed of 80 to 90 repetitions per minute, Alberts’ passenger discovered that her Parkinson’s symptoms subsided.

Three years later, Dr. Alberts again took a tandem bike journey accompanied by a man with Parkinson’s. The male partner experienced severe involuntary tremors that required a surgically implanted device to maintain control over his arm and hand functions. As the ride progressed, the passenger was able to turn the device off due to the absence of his symptoms. 

Currently, there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but seniors who need help managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s can benefit from professional in-home care. An Allen caregiver can help your elderly loved one manage his or her health in a variety of ways. If your loved one needs encouragement to exercise more often, eat healthier foods, or socialize on a regular basis, an in-home caregiver can address these and many other health-related concerns.

The Cleveland Clinic Study

In 2009, Alberts was joined by other researchers who were determined to evaluate the effects of cycling on people with Parkinson’s. The study involved 26 people with Parkinson’s, aged 30 to 75. Half rode a stationary bicycle at their own pace for 40 minutes three times each week. The other half rode at a forced rate of 80 to 90 rpms for the same length of time. After eight weeks, those riding the motorized theracycle experienced a reduction in tremors, a heightened sense of smell, and enhanced mobility. Two weeks after the research ended, those who participated in forced cycling continued experiencing a reduction in symptoms. 

Before, during, and after the cycling evaluation began, all of the subjects underwent MRI imaging studies to assess brain activity and neuron communication. As the exercise regimen progressed, images indicated the amount of activity and connectivity in the motor cortex and the rear region of the thalamus also increased. 

Helping an elderly loved one exercise can be a difficult task, especially if he or she has Parkinson’s disease. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a provider of home care Allen, TX, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Sustained Results

Since the original study, more than 150 people with Parkinson’s have taken part in theracycle research and experienced similar results. Studies are ongoing to determine why and how forced exercise reduces Parkinson’s symptoms. 

When a person with Parkinson’s stops taking prescription medication, his or her symptoms begin reappearing within a few hours. However, people with Parkinson’s who stop theracycle therapy experience symptomatic relief for weeks.

Dr. Alberts does not recommend stopping medication or turning off surgical devices. However, he does believe forced cycling could greatly benefit people with Parkinson’s. The researchers also plan on developing studies to assess the possible benefits of exercise using other physical activities.

When seniors develop Parkinson’s disease, their families are not always able to provide the care they need and deserve. Allen, TX, Parkinson’s care experts are available around the clock to help seniors maintain a high quality of life while managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s, allowing families to enjoy greater peace of mind. To create a customized in-home Parkinson’s care plan for your loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (972) 548-0392 today.

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