Parkinson’s patients find relief in pedaling

  • By Ashley Stewart Herald Writer
  • Monday, April 1, 2013 4:22pm
  • Life

The Mill Creek YMCA has a program that could help people with Parkinson’s disease lessen their symptoms.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s is a 12-week class that employs fast pedaling and high cadence on stationary bikes to improve motor function in Parkinson’s sufferers.

“Ideally, this is another way for Parkinson’s patients to have some support,” said Cindy Mascari, director of Mill Creek YMCA Health and Wellbeing.

“It’s a support group concept for both the patients and their caregivers.”

In a 2009 study, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that people with Parkinson’s disease who pedaled at a fast speed, optimally 80 to 90 revolutions per minute, for at least 40 minutes, three days a week showed a 35 percent improvement in motor function.

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes tremors, slow movement, stiffness and impaired coordination. The chronic and progressive disorder occurs when the brain cells that produce the chemical dopamine — responsible for regulating movement — stop working effectively.

The program aims to work people up to a fast pedaling speed to reduce these symptoms and improve movement.

“We’re just looking for other ways to reach people who benefit from exercise,” Mascari said.

“I really was impressed with what I saw in the study, and to the think the Y could make an impact within that population just seemed the perfect fit for us.”

Registration is now open for the free, 12-week program, which runs Monday to June 28.

During one-hour classes three days a week, patients can ride one of 16 stationary bikes and gradually work up to the desired 80 to 90 rpm speed that has been shown to improve motor function.

Caregivers are welcome to ride alongside patients, and there is a tandem bike for people with Parkinson’s who need some extra help.

To register, Parkinson’s patients need to submit medical clearance and consent forms, available at the Y’s front desk or online at tinyurl.com/PedalingforParkinsons.

Parkinson’s patients must be 30 to 75 years old to join, without another medical condition that could respond poorly to exercise, including cardiac or pulmonary disease, uncontrolled hypertension or stroke, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus or dementia.

Registration is open throughout the program, but people are encouraged to join before it begins Monday.

For more information, contact Cindy Mascari at 425-357-3024 or email cmascari@ymca-snoco.org.

Ashley Stewart: 425-339-4947; astewart@heraldnet.com.

Pedaling for Parkinson’s

9 to 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, April 8 to June 28 at Mill Creek Family YMCA cycling studio, 13723 Puget Park Drive.

Daylong conference

The fourth annual Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation’s Wellness and Parkinson’s Conference, “Moving Towards Wellness: Tools for an Improved Quality of Life for the Parkinson’s Community.”

When: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 4 at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center, Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett.

Presentations from movement disorder specialists and neuropsychologists.

Registration: $15, includes lunch.. Call 877-980-7500, email ruth@nwpf.org or visit www.nwpf.org.

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