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Fast Pedaling Improves Parkinson’s Symptoms

Researchers have found how patients with Parkinson’s diseases can take an active role in managing their disease. Chintan Shah, MS, from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio reports that incorporating exercise in their daily activities can help patients take control of their symptoms and live a better life.

Cleveland Clinic researchers have found that pedaling fast (about 75-80 revolutions/minute) improved the brain function of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition that affects the central nervous system and is manifested by movement disorders like shaking, rigidity and slowness in moving.

The study was inspired by an unexpected observation by Jay L. Alberts, PhD, a neuroscientist at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute and coauthor of the study. He noticed that a patient’s symptoms had improved after riding with her on a tandem bike. To test if pedaling fast on a bike can help alleviate symptoms of the disease, the scientists randomly assigned 26 patients with the disorder to pedal a stationary bike either at a fast rate or at voluntary speed. The exercise was done thrice a week for 8 weeks. The results of the exercise therapy showed that the forced-rate group experienced a 35% improvement in symptoms while no improvement was observed in the voluntary-rate group.

The investigators also measured the patients’ brain function before and after the exercise therapy using specialized MRI technology. The results showed an increase in connectivity between the motor center of the brain and the thalamus. Principal investigator Michael Phillips, MD states that the results of their study suggests that pedaling at relatively high speeds was a key factor in the improvement of motor function and the pattern of activation in the brain.


Lowry, F. Fast Pedaling Benefits People With Parkinson’s Disease. Medscape.


Posted in: Exercise, News Briefs, Parkinson's

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