Reflection on Friday- Exercise is Medicine

“Neurons that fire together wire together. Mental states become neural traits. Day after day, your mind is building your brain. This is what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” Rick Hanson

“Any man could, if he were so inclined, be the sculptor of his own brain.” Santiago Ramón y Cajal

The Brain and the Central Nervous System (CNS) Back in the 1970s: During my time in college, the brain and the CNS were thought to be non-responsive to regeneration (repair and regain of function). Once this region was injured, it was gone and unable to renew function.

The Brain and CNS Today: We now know today that aerobic exercise can help promote or support neuroregeneration. The term applied to this process is called neuroplasticity. What does that mean for Parkinson’s? We appear to be approaching the intersection that exercise is considered neuroprotective in Parkinson’s. By that, I mean more and more evidence is being published to imply that sustained aerobic exercise can reduce or slow the progression of disease symptoms. It may be valid for some people; however, it may not be accurate for everyone.

The critical point is that most forms of exercise are suitable for anyone with Parkinson’s. So choose an activity that you enjoy, and then do it often as you can exercise. The hopeful goal is that exercising will give you healthier lives, allowing one to negotiate a better life on your terms, not Parkinson’s. The importance of these observations about exercise and brain disorders, is that it truly reflects the tenet of exercise is medicine.

Also see these publications and blog posts:
Hall, Mary-Frances E., and Frank C. Church. “Integrative Medicine and Health Therapy for Parkinson Disease.”  Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 36.3 (2020): 176-186. https://bit.ly/3kIDY2K
Hall, Mary-Frances E., and Frank C. Church. “Exercise for Older Adults Improves the Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease and Potentially Enhances the Immune Response to COVID-19.” Brain Sciences 10.9 (2020): 612.  https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/9/612
9 Things to Know About Exercise-induced Neuroplasticity in Human Parkinson’s
Déjà Vu and Neuroplasticity in Parkinson’s
2019 Parkinson’s Awareness Month- 12 Rules of Life With Exercise
Parkinson’s Awareness Month: The Science Behind How Exercise Slows Disease Progression
Prescription for Parkinson’s: Exercise is Medicine

A Selection of Review Articles on Exercise is Medicine:

  • Berryman, Jack W. Exercise is Medicine, Current Sports Medicine Reports: July 2010 – Volume 9 – Issue 4 – p 195-201 doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181e7d86d
  • Pedersen, B.K. and Saltin, B. (2015), Exercise as medicine – evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases. Scand J Med Sci Sports, 25: 1-72. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12581
  • Sallis RE Exercise is medicine and physicians need to prescribe it! British Journal of Sports Medicine 2009;43:3-4.
  • Eijsvogels TMH, Thompson PD. Exercise Is Medicine: At Any Dose? JAMA. 2015;314(18):1915–1916. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10858
  • Thompson WR, Sallis R, Joy E, Jaworski CA, Stuhr RM, Trilk JL. Exercise Is Medicine. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2020;14(5):511-523. doi:ervou10.1177/1559827620912192
  • Langan Sean P., Grosicki Gregory J. Exercise Is Medicine…and the Dose Matters. Frontiers in Physiology. VOLUME=12 (2021) 64. URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fphys.2021.660818  DOI=10.3389/fphys.2021.660818  SSN=1664-042X  

Cover photo image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

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