In this health video find out if exercise can make a difference in Parkinson's that drugs can't.
Read the full transcript »
Jennifer Matthews: Sixty-one-year-old John Kendell isn't an athlete, but for the last two months, he's been hitting the gym regularly. At first, his Parkinson's made it tough. John Kendell: I was stiff and my hand didn't move along my side. Jennifer Matthews: But now -- John Kendell: At this slower speed, we're going now, I can stand and I can think about moving my hand. Jennifer Matthews: Alan Sidlowski has trouble with simple movements. Alan Sidlowski: I had very limited mobility in my hand and in my leg. Jennifer Matthews: But seven months in the gym and -- Alan Sidlowski: I've improved tremendously. Jennifer Matthews: These men are part of a study aimed at finding out if exercise can do what medication often can't for patients with neurological conditions like Parkinson's. Dr. Lisa Shulman: Medications have been somewhat disappointing to prevent disability related to walking and balance Jennifer Matthews: Researchers say strength exercises, aerobic activity, or gait practice may actually be able to retrain the brain. Dr. Lisa Shulman: The potential for exercise to cause some rewiring and remodeling would be effective in either case. Jennifer Matthews: Physical and emotional improvements for each of 70 patients will be monitored for three months. Dr. Lisa Shulman: Frankly, if it showed improvement in those areas alone, that would be a big advance. Jennifer Matthews: Official results are two years away, but so far -- Alan Sidlowski: I'm a lot better now than I was and who knows what's going to be. Jennifer Matthews: Their progress is a good sign. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.