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Could HIIT help reverse nerve damage caused by Parkinson’s?

A Yale study reported by Spa Business looks into the potential benefits of high intensity workouts.

This week, Spa Business reported on a pilot study by Yale School of Medicine, in which it indicates that exercise may not only slow down the neurodegeneration associated with Parkinson’s Disease but possibly reverse damage as well.

Exercise and neurological health

Health is such a huge area of knowledge and discovery, and one can't help but feel that collectively we're only just on the cusp of discovering what our bodies are capable of.

While this is a pilot study, so it's probably important not to get too excited about it just yet, it's an extremely hopeful start for one of the most prevalent neurological diseases in the world, estimated to impact more than 12 million people globally by 2040.

Multiple studies already show that exercise is linked to improved symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but this takes things a step further, seeing changes in nine out of 10 people.

The study only included 10 patients, but Yale School of Medicine writes that it showed signs that:

"high-intensity aerobic exercise preserved dopamine-producing neurons, the brain cells that are most vulnerable to destruction in patients with the disease."

Hopeful signs for the future

Publishing their findings in npj Parkinson’s Disease this year, Yale continues: "after six months of exercise, the neurons actually had grown healthier and produced stronger dopamine signals. Dopamine is a chemical that helps brain cells communicate with each other."

They quote Evan D. Morris, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical, saying:

“This is the first time imaging has been used to confirm that the biology of the brain in those suffering with Parkinson’s disease is changed by intense exercise.”

Excitingly, it offers new avenues of exploration, as current medications currently available are only for symptomatic treatment and don't change the course of the disease itself. Sule Tinaz, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, is quoted by Yale, saying:

“But exercise seems to go one step beyond and protect the brain at the neuronal level.”

Fingers crossed for more positive progress in this space.

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