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Stationary Bike Workouts Could Help Parkinson's Patients
  • Posted March 1, 2024

Stationary Bike Workouts Could Help Parkinson's Patients

A bicycle built for two could be a positive prescription for Parkinson's patients and their caregivers, a small, preliminary study says.

Parkinson's patients had better overall quality of life, improved mobility, and faster walking speed after sharing regular rides on a stationary tandem bike with a care partner, researchers plan to report at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April.

Care partners also got something out of the rides, reporting improvements in their perceived ability to bounce back or recover from stress, results show.

"A unique cycling program that pairs people with Parkinson's disease with their care partners can improve the physical, emotional and mental well-being of both cyclists to improve their quality of life,"said researcher Jennifer Trilk, a professor of biomedical sciences with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville.

Parkinson's is a progressive degenerative disease of the nervous system. Patients become less and less able to control their body, suffering from tremors, leg stiffness, and gait and balance problems.

For the study, patients and caregivers shared a virtual reality ride on a tandem stationary bicycle twice a week for eight weeks. The study included nine Parkinson's patients and their care partners.

"It is just as important that care partners also receive care, so that is why we included them as the cycling partner,"Trilk said in a meeting news release.

During each session, large television screens synced to cycling intensity provided the sense of cycling along real-life scenic outdoor routes.

Because the bike was tandem, care partners were able to help the patients maintain a higher pedaling rate for greater health benefits, researchers said.

Following the series of sessions, caregivers were more likely to agree with statements like, "I tend to bounce back quickly after hard times"and "I usually come through difficult times with little trouble,"researchers said.

People with Parkinson's didn't experience a similar improvement in resiliency, but tests showed that they had better physical function and mobility following the rides.

The patients also felt more capable of dealing with difficulties in daily life, results showed.

"The goal of our small study was to determine if tandem cycling was beneficial,"Trilk said. "The next step will be to confirm the results with subsequent studies that would include more participants."

Findings presented at a medical meeting should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The National Institute on Aging has more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Feb. 29, 2024

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