April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and a good time to discuss how exercise can lessen symptoms and improve quality of life.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain. The cause is unknown, and progression differs widely among individual patients. Symptoms include tremors, problems with walking and balance, and limb rigidity.
Treatments include medication and surgery, says the Parkinson’s Foundation. It is not fatal itself. But complications are the 14th leading cause of death in the US, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are 5 Fast Facts about the disease.
- Worldwide, more than 10 million people have it. About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year, almost all of them after 50.
- Exercise Is essential to improve symptoms and may possibly slow progression. It also improves muscles, bones, flexibility, and balance.
- Boxing is an increasingly common activity for Parkinson’s patients. “Non-contact boxing-inspired classes can reverse, reduce and even delay the symptoms,” says Rock Steady Boxing.
- The Parkinson’s Foundation also recommends activities such as golf, walking, biking, dancing, swimming, tai chi, and yoga.
- Famous athletes with the disease have included boxing champ Muhammad Ali and NBA veteran Brian Grant, who maintains a foundation to help patients.
To learn more about Parkinson’s or how to participate in awareness month, visit The Parkinson Foundation online.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.