Why Exercise is Important for People with Neuromuscular Conditions
It is well established that exercise is good for us. It improves cardiovascular function, increases strength, lowers risk of certain cancers, helps maintain weight, improves sleep, and lowers risks of falls just to list a few. In addition to the benefits listed above, research has shown that exercise can be beneficial for those living with a neuromuscular condition. Below are just a few examples of neuromuscular conditions and why exercise is beneficial to those living with them.
According to the CDC, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It occurs when blood supply is either blocked or a blood vessel bursts in the brain. What a person’s limitations will be following a stroke will be based on location and severity of the stroke. Regardless, it is important to engage in aerobic activity to improve cardiovascular health in order to reduce risk factors of a second stroke. When it comes to activities of daily living, exercise can help them seem less demanding by increasing a person’s endurance and strength. Spasticity (increased muscle tone) is common following a stroke and routine stretching can help with this.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement disorder resulting from lower dopamine in the brain due to nerve degeneration. It is estimated that close to one million people in the United States will be living with Parkinson’s Disease by 2020. Increasing frequency of movement (i.e. steps per minute) during aerobic exercise seems to have a positive effect on PD symptoms. Rigidity of the muscles, particularly those that flex your spine forward, is another symptom seen in PD patients and engaging in exercises to improve the strength and activation of antagonist (opposing) muscles can help with this.
About one million people in the US have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which is the result of damage to the coating of the nerves in the central nervous system (i.e. brain and spinal cord). Exercise has been shown to improve feelings of fatigue and increase muscle strength and balance which are all common symptoms of MS. Additionally improved bladder and bowel function and better mood have all been reported with exercise. Because decreased heat tolerance is associated with MS, exercising in a pool can be a great way to do full body exercise.
No matter what your situation, it is important to remember that anyone can benefit from physical activity. While, it is recommended that all adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise and two or more days of strengthening exercises per week, it is important to work within your abilities.
UW Health – Research Park has a variety of programs especially appropriate for individuals with movement challenges. Go to www.uwhealth.org/movementchallenges for a printable version of these offerings,
Speak with staff who can help you find the program that best meets your unique needs: (608) 263-7936