Health. Parkinson’s disease: physical activity reduces symptoms

Why is April 11th every year Parkinson’s Day? Simply in honor of the man who first described the symptoms in 1817: Dr. James Parkinson, born April 11, 1755.

Two centuries later, Parkinson’s disease became the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease.

In France, 270,000 people are affected and the number of new cases a year – around 25,000 – is constantly increasing, especially in relation to the aging of the population.

17% of people diagnosed before the age of 50

Among the facts about Parkinson’s to remember, while 80% of cases are diagnosed after age 90, 17% are diagnosed before age 50.

Only 5% of cases are familial forms (13 genes identified so far). One in 50 people will be directly affected in their lifetime.

From a symptomatic point of view, the disease is recognized by tremors, but the most common and prominent symptoms are slowness of movements, also called akinesia, and muscle rigidity.

Too large a proportion of “inactive” people

The France Parkinson Association sponsored the survey “Physical activity and Parkinson’s disease”, published on 11

Why be interested in a practice that may seem distant from the concerns associated with this disease?

Because with regular exercise involving the whole body, it supports mobility and thereby reduces symptoms and their progression.

In this survey, more than 9 out of 10 sick people seem to be aware of the benefits of physical activity.

However, 16% of respondents to this survey do not exercise and 58% of practitioners do not exercise enough. Obstacles in practice, especially intensive ones, are very diverse.

Many perceive the incompatibility between the disease and sports (48% of non-exercisers), especially those in an advanced stage of the disease.

A frequent obstacle (33% of non-practitioners) is also a lack of motivation, often linked to the disease itself.

Encouragement and support is seen as essential with 45% of respondents believing it would encourage them to be more physically active.

In addition, there is a lack of awareness of recent recommendations for physical exercise: although 88% of respondents said that their neurologist encouraged them to exercise, it seems that the therapeutic nature of exercise is not always well explained by health professionals, that, for example, their advice on the amount sometimes lacks precision .

The benefits of physical activity are becoming increasingly clear

The challenge is to start physical activity from the onset of the disease. Dr Teodor Danaila, a neurologist at the Expert Parkinson Center at the Pierre Wertheimer Hospital (Hospices Civils de Lyon), explains why: “DIn a study conducted on patients who benefited from the SIROCCO program at the Hospices Civils de Lyon (5 hours a day of intensive, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, for 5 weeks), we observed an improvement in mobility and articulation difficulties for at least 12 months.. »

For the moment, ” we do not know well enough the effects of intense and regular physical activity carried out over a long period of time”, adds the neurologist. “Mbut the arguments in favor of neuroprotection are increasing (hence the retarding effect on the disease, editor’s note). »

From the beginning of the disease, the specialist recommends intensive and regular physical activity in the range of 3-4 sessions per week, each lasting 30-45 minutes, while trying to increase the effort with each subsequent training session.

There is no real physical activity that we should prefer, but those that mobilize as many muscle groups as possible include swimming, rowing, the elliptical and brisk Nordic walking.

source: France Parkinson survey “Physical activity and Parkinson’s disease” from 2 to 26 February 2024; Files on Parkinson’s disease from the Brain Institute (Paris), consulted 11/4/24.

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