A study published by the Radboud teaching hospital in The Lancet Neurology journal shows that people in the early stages of Parkinson’s can greatly benefit from cycling. The aerobic exercise on home trainers is as good in stopping the progression of the disease as the newest forms of medication.

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There were 130 sedentary patients involved in the study. They ranged from 30 years of age to 75, with a Hoehn-Yahr stage of 2 or lower, which is considered an early stage in the disease’s progression. The patients were split into two groups. One was assigned an aerobic exercise on stationary bikes using software that showed courses such as the Tour de France stages and let them compete against other patients. The other group did stretching exercises, also with a motivational app.

“The control group scored four points less on the scale we use to assess motor skills of Parkinson patients,” professor Bas Bloem told broadcaster NOS. “The effect of cycling is about the same as the improvement we would get from different types of medication. New medication for patients is regarded as meaningful if the improvement it brings has a score of three. That shows you how important the effect of cycling really is.”

“The cyclists were fitter and had fewer symptoms. They were deteriorating at a slower pace. That means they will need less medical care and fewer pills but also that effects of the disease on their lungs and heart will be reduced. Many Parkinson patients die of these complications,” he added.

More research will be needed to see how cycling affects the patients in the later stages of the disease. We’ll bring you the results as soon as they are out.

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