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New hope for patients

New hope for patients

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease of the nervous system, which leads to motor symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness, and difficulty moving. However, recent research conducted by the Catholic University and the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome revealed that intense and regular exercise can have a significant effect in slowing down the course of disease and protecting the brain. These findings, published in the journal Science Advances, open up new avenues for a non-pharmacological treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Figure 1 – Parkinson’s disease and physical fitness: How exercise can improve quality of life

The role of exercise in counteracting neurological damage

The study, conducted by the experts, in collaboration with the San Raffaele Telematics University in Rome and the University of Milan, involved mice with Parkinson’s disease. During the experiment, rats were trained daily on a treadmill for one month. The results showed that exercise led to an increase in the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is crucial for the survival of nerve cells.

The presence of BDNF in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s disease has been shown to be directly linked to reduced damage to neurons. BDNF plays a major role in ensuring that physical activity has a positive impact on both the brain and behaviour. Scientists have noticed a decrease in the presence of a protein called alpha-synuclein, which is associated with the degeneration of neurons in some areas of the brain in the course of Parkinson’s disease. Exercise has been shown to protect the brain, allowing neurons to continue functioning despite illness. Moreover, it was observed that rats that underwent intense training kept their motor control and visual ability intact.

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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that affects the nervous system and causes motor and non-motor symptoms. In this condition, neurons in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra produce less dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential for controlling movement. As a result, symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, and balance problems occur.

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is not yet known, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to contribute to the development of the disease. Diagnosis is made primarily by observing symptoms and assessing response to medications that increase dopamine levels in the brain.

Long-term effects of exercise in Parkinson’s disease

One of the most interesting aspects of the study is that the beneficial effects of exercise on movement control were maintained even after the training ended. This means that exercise in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease can have long-lasting effects, helping to slow the decline in motor functions. This suggests that not only does exercise help maintain cognitive and motor function, but it may also positively affect disease progression over time.

New perspectives for the treatment and management of Parkinson’s disease thanks to physical exercise

The findings of this research open up new avenues for the management and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. A non-pharmacological approach based on exercise can be considered an important adjunct to conventional therapies. Incorporating a personalized and monitored training program can help improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients, providing them with a natural and effective way to preserve brain function and movement.

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In conclusion, intense and regular physical exercise has been confirmed as an important ally in the fight against Parkinson’s disease. The results of the study show how physical activity can protect the brain, slow the course of disease and preserve motor and cognitive functions. These findings provide new perspectives for the treatment and management of Parkinson’s disease, paving the way for integrated therapies that combine medication and personalized exercise programs.