In light of the World Parkinson Day, we propose you an editorial tackling the issue of physical exercise as a method to slow down the effects of Parkinson's disease, the chronic disease affecting 10 million people worldwide at various stages.
Among the different kinds of training that can be performed by Parkinson's disease patients, high-intensity agility training has been tested to be the most effective form of training to ameliorate significantly patients’ physical ability, especially when compared against low frequency training, as this study demonstrated.
What high-intensity agility training is
Multiple agility exercises, such as lateral plyometric jumps, cone drills and shuttle runs, constitute the basis of multiple training formats, ranging from the more sports based ones like Skillathletic to the pure rehabilitative ones.
The best agility exercises for your motor coordination
- Plyometric box step ups: start by standing in front of the box. Step up onto the box with one leg, then bring the other leg up as you straighten both legs. Step back down and repeat on the opposite side.
- Speed Ladder lateral running: Keeping a low centre of gravity, step side-to-side through the ladder one foot at a time. Touch in each rung of the ladder with both feet. Land on the balls of the feet. Repeat right to left and left to right.
- Shuttle Runs: shuttle run is probably the most standard agility training exercise to stimulate coordination, sprints and balance. Set a training area with 3 cones, about 10 metres apart from each other. With explosive speed, sprint from the first cone to the second cone, touch it and then sprint back. Subsequently, run from the first to the third cone, touch the tip of the cone and sprint to the initial position.
Testing agility training on Parkinson's patients
Description and methodology of the experiment
All patients were examined before and after the 3 weeks training period, and then on a trimestral schedule. Each examination included a neurological and mobility exam to assess the patients’ change in their biometrics, measured with the standard metrics used in Parkinson's medical evaluations. All patients remained on medication and were not asked to decrease the dosage during the experiment.
The effects of Agility Training on the progression of Parkinson's disease symptoms
The experiment proves that there is a direct correlation between agility training and the slowdown of Parkinson's symptoms, which are then contained when maintenance training comes into play. At the same time, it is interesting to notice that the benefits of a 3 weeks high-intensity athletic effort wears down in months when not continued, signalling that the positive effects of agility training in Parkinson's disease patients outweigh the duration of the training period itself.