My physiotherapist has talked – both to me and to a local group of people affected by Parkinson’s – about the research featured in the following ABC news article – but it is strangely reassuring to have stumbled across this ABC News report (posted on YouTube in July 2009):
Basically, the story is that Dr. Jay Alberts, a neuroscientist from Cleveland, Ohio, is a keen cyclist who just happened to go on a long tandem bike ride with his friend, David, who sufers from Parkinson’s. Dr. Alberts was surprised to note that David’s Parkinsonian symptoms were drastically reduced after the arduous ride. On his return, he instigated a study, the results of which encouraged the theory that high levels of exercise affect the brain positively. Most commentators are keen to stress that, while it is the legs that are exercising, the benefits are global – the effects are, for example, also seen in the arms.
I have also found the following textual reports on the same story:
- ABC news
- Webscape Today / WebMD (requires login, but accounts are free to create)
- Commercial site flogging motorised mini cycles on the back of this research
The paper produced by Alberts and his colleagues (“Effects of forced-exercise on motor symptoms and cortical activation in Parkinson’s disease”) was presented in June 2009 at the Movement Disorder Society‘s 13th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in Paris, France (Abstract LB-13 – find it on page 7 of this collection of Late Breaking Abstracts). There is also a News Release from the Movement Disorder Society, relating to the paper.
Sadly (and slightly suspiciously), I haven’t found any UK reports on this story.