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Fitness Beyond 50: Does exercise help Parkinson's?

posted Apr 15, 2014, 3:48 PM by Dianne James   [ updated Apr 15, 2014, 3:52 PM ]
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ding one minute each five minutes at a faster pace will not only burn more calories, both during and after the exercise, but it will also have positive effects on the flow of blood to your brain.

Jay Alberts, Ph.D., is a member of the Biomedical Engineering staff at the Cleveland Clinic. He's also an avid cyclist. Several years ago a combination of work and pleasure produced an interesting revelation.

Alberts invited a female Parkinson's patient to join him on a tandem bicycle for the RAGBRAI — an annual seven-day bike ride across Iowa that's been held for over 40 years. He was a stronger cyclist than the woman accompanying him, which meant that she worked harder than she would have on her own. The surprise was that, at the end of the ride, her Parkinson's condition had improved. For example, she was able to sign her name legibly, something she couldn't do before the ride.

This led Alberts and others to conduct an experiment using stationary bikes. They had volunteers ride a stationary bicycle three times a week for an eight-week period. Half of the participants were allowed to pedal at whatever pace they chose, while the other half had bikes that were fixed — they had to pedal faster than they normally would.

MRI scans done before and after showed considerable improvement in sections of the brain associated with improved motor abilities. The greatest improvement was in the brains of those who had to pedal faster.

What if you don't have Parkinson's? Think about it: If more intense aerobic exercise has a positive impact on Parkinson's patients, why wouldn't it have a positive effect on those of us who don't have the disease?

There are many advantages to exercising beyond our comfort zone. While it's beneficial to spend an hour walking a pace of three miles an hour, it's even better to spend part of that time walking at a pace of four miles an hour or higher — a pace at which you struggle to carry on a conversation.

Spending one minute each five minutes at a faster pace will not only burn more calories, both during and after the exercise, but it will also have positive effects on the flow of blood to your brain. Begin by doing five one-minute spurts — or intervals, as they're normally called — over the course of your walk. Increase to one every five minutes over time.

Harry H. Gaines is a motivational speaker and the author of "Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock." He and his wife are residents of Bonita Springs and are active exercisers. His book and additional information are available at fitnessbeyondfifty.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Barnes & Noble stores in Southwest Florida. The eBook is also available on these websites and through iTunes.

Source:  new-press.com
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