Cleveland Clinic Studies Our Pedaling for Parkinson's Program

Man on Bike

Our Pedaling for Parkinson's Program Is Improving Lives of Parkinson's Patients

 

Over the past several decades, clinicians and researchers have begun to understand the potential of exercise in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Dr. Jay Alberts of the Cleveland Clinic has dedicated a substantial portion of his career to helping people with PD improve their quality of life through aerobic exercise.

 

Dr. Alberts has conducted multiple clinical trials demonstrating that an 8-week bout of high intensity aerobic exercise delivered on a stationary cycle can reduce motor symptoms of the disease by 35%. The symptom reduction following aerobic exercise gives rise to the possibility that aerobic exercise may alter the course of the disease - a novel finding that has the potential to challenge and redefine the way the PD-community views exercise in the treatment of PD.

 

As a result of his laboratory studies, Dr. Alberts founded Pedaling for Parkinson’s (PFP), a non-profit committed to promoting community-based exercise programs for individuals with PD. The PFP classes are typically conducted 3x/week, year-round and focus on high-intensity cycling. Currently, there are over 100 PFP classes in YMCAs and community centers throughout the United States and several international sites.

 

After more than a decade of fielding emails and calls from patients indicating the PFP programs are beneficial, Dr. Alberts and his colleague, Dr. Anson Rosenfeldt, decided it was time to systematically study the effects of these PFP programs. Dr. Rosenfeldt is leading the project to examine the effect of real-world aerobic exercise by monitoring individuals with PD during their PFP cycling classes at four different PFP locations throughout the United States. The Whatcom Family YMCA has one of the largest PFP programs in the United States.

 

The Whatcom YMCA was asked to be a partner for the project due to its large class size and highly engaged staff and participants. Motor and non-motor symptoms, as well as cadence (pedaling rate) and heart rate from the cycling classes, will be tracked for a 12-month period. This study has the potential to answer many questions about the long-term effects of aerobic exercise in PD. Those who participate are donating their time and effort toward finding answers to a disease that affects millions of individuals worldwide.