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February 2023
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Treadmill Treatment

Study:  Effects of Parkinson’s May Be Diminished with Treadmill Training

While it may not cure peoples' Parkinson's disease, a treadmill may improve their gait.

Every once in a while, I like to mix up my aerobic activity by walking or jogging on the good ol’ treadmill.  It’s not the most exciting piece of workout equipment, but it is alleviating, as a treadmill gives my knees the relief they need after weeks of pounding the pavement (i.e. I prefer to run outdoors, but the ground is not exactly forgiving on the joints).

But besides runners, there’s another group of people that may come to treasure the treadmill:  People with Parkinson’s.

According to a study recently published in the Cochrane Library, training performed on a treadmill can work wonders in improving the gait of people with Parkinson’s.  A person’s “gait” is just a fancy way of describing how a person walks or the ease with which a person walks.  And as anyone who has Parkinson’s knows, walking is just one of the many functional casualties that affects them.

Researchers discovered the treatment a treadmill can provide after observing people with Parkinson’s, approximately 203 of them.  When they compared those who went through the training versus those who did not train, virtually every aspect of walking improved compared to those that did not train.  In measurements of the participants’ stride length, steps per minute, walking speed and distance, movement improved in everyone that trained.  There were no such improvements in those that did not train.

As is the norm with these kinds of studies, the study’s researchers played down the findings.  They said their analysis comes from a very small group of participants.  There’s also some confusion as to how long the improvements last and what training techniques are best.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s movement by increasing rigidity, diminishing one’s sense of balance, and causing tremor-like motions.  Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox are perhaps the most well known public figures with Parkinson’s disease, but they are two of the 1.2 million living with the condition in the U.S. alone (there are about 50,000 newly diagnosed cases of Parkinson’s each year).  Parkinson’s disease afflicts more men than women.

While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s (don’t trust any natural health web site that claims to “cure” Parkinson’s; they’re selling you a bill of goods) there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms.  Besides treadmill training, creatine can help.  Creatine helps stabilize the muscles by increasing muscle stamina and endurance.  Co-enzyme Q10 may be beneficial as well.  Co-enzyme Q10 does a lot for improving brain function, and since Parkinson’s starts in the brain, it may help slow the progression of the disease.

In a similar vein, glutathione may be beneficial.  Parkinson’s is essentially an indication that a number of important brain cells have been lost; glutathione may help restore what’s been lost.

Balch, Phyllis A.  “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.”  4th Edition.  2006.  Avery:  New York

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