Hide

Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close
brain-neurons

Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.  Unfortunately, the incidence of Parkinson’s disease has not declined, and its impact is seen in all races.  This is due in part to the fact that the population of the world is greater than ever before and increasing. In addition, people are living longer than in previous generations, and the baby boomer generation, one of the largest generations in history, has reached old age.

Risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include:

Age: Risk of Parkinson’s disease increases with age.  The average age of onset for this disease is 55 years and the rate of incidence increases steadily until the age of 90.

Gender: Men have a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease than women.

Family history: Individuals with a family history of Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, it is said that those with affected first-degree relatives double their risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Agricultural work: Individuals exposed to pesticides and herbicides have a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Drinking well-water and living in rural areas have also been associated with an increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease.

Head Trauma: Head trauma can be a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease as is seen in the case of boxers. One study showed that trauma to the upper cervical region, head, and neck was a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. However, in some cases it took years for these symptoms to appear.

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown.  Regarding the molecular events that lead to the development of this disease, there is still some uncertainty in terms of what causes the neurodegeneration seen in Parkinson’s disease. The current hypothesis is that Parkinson’s disease may result from the interaction between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility.

The primary symptoms for PD are deficiencies in motor performance due to the loss of the dopamine pathways in the brain. Decreased dopamine production in the substantia nigra in the brain causes the 4 primary motor symptoms:

  • Bradykinesia: described as slowness in the execution of movements while performing daily activities.
  • Rigidity or Stiffness: caused by an involuntary increase in tone of the limbs and axial musculature.
  • Resting Tremor: Found primarily in the arms and hands and can be socially bothersome. Resting tremors are less disabling since they often vanish with the initiation of activity (especially in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease).
  • Postural Instability: manifested in a slow speed of walking, shortened stride length, narrowing of base of support, and leaning towards one side.

Exercise should be targeted for the primary motor symptoms with exercise and occupational therapy to improve quality of life. Recommended program components include:

  • Posture, gait, mobility
  • Fall risk reduction
  • Cardiorespiratory health
  • Strength and function
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Joint health

Exercise prescription for clients with PD includes: (ACSM)

  • An individualized program
  • Cardiorespiratory: use guidelines for healthy adults
  • Muscular Fitness: use guidelines for healthy adults
  • Flexibility: slow, static exercises for all major and minor joints in the body including the upper torso, spine, and neck.
  • Neuromotor Exercises: help with balance, gait, and postural instability. Clinicians use a gait belt or parallel bars to ensure safety depending on the severity of the symptoms.  Include functional exercises to improve ADLs and quality of life.

PD exercise therapy includes intervention with many kinds of exercise modes. Both personal training and group fitness have been successful in helping to manage the disease and reduce the symptoms. There is not strong evidence at this point to show that exercise prevents PD, but it is believed that exercise may play a role.  Exercise is however the mainstay for symptom management and slowing disease development.

 


June M. Chewning BS, MA has been in the fitness industry since 1978 serving as a physical education teacher, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, gym owner, master trainer, adjunct college professor, curriculum formatter and developer, and education consultant. She is the education specialist at Fitness Learning Systems, a continuing education company.

References and Resources:

breakfast 3

Why is Breakfast Really That Important?

There are so many misconceptions and misinformation about nutrition. Everyone wants to believe they are eating to properly fuel their body and prevent disease. There is one clear path to learn how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition information. For some reason, many people prefer to follow the nutrition fads, instead of trying to understand how the body works.

blood pressure cuff

Be a Blood Pressure Hero!

Did you know as a health-fitness professional you can have a positive effect on a client’s health, longevity, and brain function by simply helping them prevent and manage hypertension? The good news is that it is easy- just get them to exercise regularly. The influence of exercise on blood pressure is significant, and for most clients promoting healthy blood pressure is as easy as learning how to assess BP, prescribe regular exercise, and re-assess BP.  Almost every client with elevated BP will see results with regular exercise… so why not be the BP hero?

To be a BP hero, it is important to be educated in the anatomy of BP, how BP works, how to assess BP, BP disease exercise warning signs, and what has a positive effect on maintaining a good BP or lowering an elevated BP. This article gives you a snapshot insight into the fascinating world of blood pressure and exercise.

The body delivers vital oxygen and nutrients and removes waste and metabolic by-products through the combined effort of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, referred to in combination as the cardiorespiratory (CR) system. The lungs in the pulmonary system are of particular interest as the closed loop vascular system passes through the lungs to pick up oxygen and dispose of carbon dioxide. The success of this closed-loop system relies heavily on a delicate balance to provide effective distribution of blood to virtually all organs and cells in the body.

The proper function of the cardiorespiratory system, and the ability of blood to continuously loop though the system, depends on maintaining the proper pressure in the vessels and organs of the cardiorespiratory system. The pressure is primarily controlled by the vascular system. The pressure maintained in the CR system is measured and monitored by blood pressure.

Blood Pressure is defined as the pressure/force exerted on the arterial walls with each heart beat. (Cleveland Clinic 2019) Blood pressure can be measured directly by a catheter in the artery, or indirectly with a blood pressure cuff and sphygmomanometer. Two pressures in the arteries are measured to determine blood pressure:

  • Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP): represents the highest pressure (against the artery walls) in the artery occurring during ventricular systole, or ventricular contraction, and ventricular blood ejection.
  • Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP): represents the lowest pressure (against the artery walls) in the artery occurring during ventricular diastole, or ventricular relaxation, which allows the heart to refill.

Blood pressure is the amount of force (hydrostatic pressure) that pushes the blood through the vascular system. Pressure drops gradually as the large arterial vessels branch resulting in lower venous pressures (compared to artery pressure) as the blood progresses through the closed loop system. Blood pressure and associated measures are commonly expressed in millimeters of mercury or “mmHg.”

BP is expressed by ventricular systole over ventricular diastole, for example 120/80. Blood pressure does not remain constant and varies throughout the day or over time in the aging process depending on many factors including exercise, stress, body position, medication, cardiovascular condition, respiratory health, proper hydration, and age.

Did You Know?

Blood Pressure depends primarily on body size.

So, children and young adolescents have much lower blood pressures than adults. (Kenney 2019)

Current Guidelines for BP Classification and Management

American Heart Association 2019 (www.heart.org)

Systolic BP
Diastolic BP
Classification
*Recommendations
<120 and <80 Normal Healthy lifestyle choices and yearly checks.
120-129 and <80 Elevated Blood Pressure Healthy lifestyle changes and reassessed in 3-6 months
130-139 or 80-89 High Blood Pressure Stage I 10 year heart disease and stroke risk assessment. If less than 10% risk, lifestyle changes and reassessed in 3-6 months. If higher after reassessment, lifestyle changes and medication with monthly follow-ups until BP is controlled.
≥140 or ≥90 High Blood Pressure Stage II Lifestyle changes and 2 different classes of medicine, with monthly follow-ups until BP is controlled.
*Individual recommendations need to come from health care provider.

Source: American Heart Association’s Journal Hypertension published November 13, 2017.

Hypertension is defined as:

“Having a resting systolic blood pressure (SBP) >140 mmHg and/or a resting diastolic blood pressure (DBP) >90 mmHg, confirmed by a minimum of two measures taken on at least two separate days, or taking antihypertensive medication for the purpose of blood pressure control.” (ACSM 2018)

This chronic medical condition is called the “silent killer” because there are typically no symptoms. Learning how to assess BP for your client can put you forefront in the fight to detect and fight this deadly chronic disease.  Elevated blood pressure can increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, and heart failure. There are both genetic and lifestyle factors that can affect the development of hypertension.

A client with hypertension should engage in regular exercise after their blood pressure is effectively controlled. Exercise to control and manage high blood pressure should only be initiated after the client has seen their health care professional and is under medical supervision and treatment.  Systolic blood pressure can increase significantly during exercise, so the client coming to you with high blood pressure should not exercise without medical clearance.

Did You Know?

Hypertension causes the heart to work harder than normal at rest and with activity because it must pump blood from the left ventricle against a greater resistance in the arteries. (Kenney 2019)

The American Heart Association updated guidelines recommend treatment options including lifestyle changes and blood pressure lowering medications. The lifestyle modifications for those with hypertension can lower systolic approximately 4 to 11 mmHg with the largest impact from diet and exercise. (Whelton et al., 2017)

It is well documented in research that even light-moderate exercise can help control and lower blood pressure if you have hypertension. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum threshold of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity for health and quality of life. This threshold of physical activity plays an important role in cardiorespiratory health, longevity, brain health, muscle/bone health, balance and fall prevention, and function to name a few. Maintaining physical activity/exercise is recommended for prevention and control of virtually all chronic diseases.

In most people, hypertension responds very well to using physical activity/exercise as an adjunct therapy. Starting regular exercise typically helps you control hypertension with lower medication doses. As a health-fitness professional, it is very rewarding to see a client reduce or eliminate blood pressure medication through a regular exercise program.

To learn more, register for the upcoming webinar on the topic, Be a Blood Pressure Hero. Or take a continuing education course about blood pressure and exercise. Knowledge is power and will help you to become a BP hero!


Compiled by June M. Chewning BS, MA. The information from this article is from “Blood Pressure, Hypertension, and Exercise.”  A continuing education course offered by FLS.

June M. Chewning BS, MA has been in the fitness industry since 1978 serving as a physical education teacher, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, gym owner, master trainer, adjunct college professor, curriculum formatter and developer, and education consultant. She is the education specialist at Fitness Learning Systems, a continuing education company.

References

  1. Chewning, J and Schmidt-McNulty T. (2019) Blood Pressure, Hypertension, and Exercise. Fitness Learning Systems. nafconliine.com
  2. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). (2018) ACSM’ Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 10th Wolters Kluwer.
  3. Kenney WL, Wilmore JH, Costill DL. (2015) Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 6th Human Kinetics.
  4. Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, Casey DE Jr, Collins KJ, Dennison-Himmelfarb C, DePalma SM, Gidding S, Jamerson KA, Jones DW, MacLaughlin EJ, Muntner P, Ovbiagele B, Smith SC Jr, Spencer CC, Stafford RS, Taler SJ, Thomas RJ, Williams KA Sr, Williamson JD, and Wright JT Jr. (2017) ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Hypertension. doi: 10.1161/HYP.0000000000000065
Dementia Brain Problems

Alzheimer’s Disease

Although there are natural physiological changes that occur with age, memory loss is neither normal nor a natural process of aging. It is important to take a proactive role in retaining the strength, resiliency, and vitality of the brain. Research has shown that just as the body needs strength-building exercises to maintain muscle strength, so does the brain.

Back pain

Chronic Pain

Hey! Did you know that all pain is all in your head?  It doesn’t mean you don’t have real pain when something to cause pain happens, or that chronic pain is not real.  Feelings of pain are very real and are initiated by the brain for a very important basic reason…to keep you safe.

The study of the neuroscience of pain has changed considerably in the past 10 years.  It is now believed that the sensation of pain is a necessary function that warns the body of potential pain or of actual injury.  The process starts with the nociceptor detecting a potentially painful stimulus from the skin or an internal organ. Neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) transmit the signals through the nervous system and spinal cord to the brain. In essence, how the brain processes the signals causes an appropriate or inappropriate pain response.

One example is a child falling and skinning his knees.  He gets up and continues to play as if nothing happened.  Then another child or adult reacts to the blood running down his legs, he looks, his brain responds differently to the neurological stimulus, and suddenly there is pain.  Initially the brain did not register the experience as painful, however the next time the child falls, he will probably immediately register the skinned knees as painful. Experience plays a role in the pain response.

The pain response can also be overridden by the brain in circumstances that are life threatening.  For example, a soldier who runs to safety with a serious gun-shot wound. The brain, due to past experience, can conversely register the event as much more painful or life threatening than necessary. For example, someone who was bitten by a poisonous snake may brush it off as being scratched by a stick, until they realize they have a life-threatening injury. But the next time they get scratched by a stick, they may respond as if they were bitten by a poisonous snake.

According to Elliot Krane in his Ted Talk “The Mystery of Chronic Pain,” after an injury or surgery, the nervous system can sometimes get what is going on wrong.  Approximately ten percent of the time, the nerves and glial cells (play a vital role in modulation, amplification, and distortion of sensory experiences) that interact in the pain response develop into a feedback loop that can become distorted. This altered feedback can make chronic pain become its own disease.

Dr. Maria Sykorova-Pritz in her course “Application of Water Exercise for Pain Management” describes how chronic pain is not simple, but very complicated.  The body, mind, emotions, and behavior can become entwined in the chronic pain cycle. Pain medication is often prescribed for chronic pain. Rampant prescription of pain medication is believed to play a large role in the opioid epidemic in the United States.  Although pain medication is often prescribed for chronic pain, it does nothing to unravel the combination of physical, emotional, and behavioral factors that are now believed to cause chronic pain.

There is growing evidence that chronic pain is caused by multiple factors including cognitive, physiological, and behavioral factors. If you are working with clients or interacting with a family member with chronic pain, it is important to understand that it is not just simply a physiological response to pain. It is important to effectively influence a client’s attitude, cultural background and belief system-which influences social norms and perceived behavioral control.  To achieve the highest positive health/fitness results among the chronic pain population, it is important to know and understand your client as a whole person.

As we start to look for alternative ways to deal with chronic pain and its aftermath, a combination of physical therapy/exercise and emotional/behavioral counseling is emerging as the tools of choice.  Using the practice of yoga and water therapy/exercise to relieve and even cure chronic pain are proving to be viable and more effective alternatives than pain medication. Statistics from the Institute of Medicine indicate that more than 100 million Americans suffer with chronic pain, thus creating a viable niche for those wishing to work with clients with chronic pain. Now that more is known about chronic pain, its potential causes, the chronic pain cycle, and how to treat it effectively, education is key to working with this population in need.  Proper treatment and compassion for chronic pain sufferers can help end the opioid crisis and help people beat chronic pain to live pain free lives without addiction and suffering.

For more information about the psychology and treatment of chronic pain management, see Dr. Maria Sykorova-Pritz’s continuing education course “Application of Water Exercise for Pain Management.


Compiled by June Chewning. June M. Chewning BS, MA has been in the fitness industry since 1978 serving as a physical education teacher, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, gym owner, master trainer, adjunct college professor, curriculum formatter and developer, and education consultant. She is the education specialist at Fitness Learning Systems, a continuing education company.

References