Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Athletes less likely to develop Parkinson's
A lifestyle that includes lots of exercise – and preferably intensive exercise or exercise outdoors – offers protection against Parkinson's disease. This has been confirmed in a recent Finnish/Chinese epidemiological study.
Exercise versus Parkinson's
In April 2014, Finnish researchers published the results of a study in the European Journal of Epidemiology in which they had followed nearly 7000 men and women aged 50-79 for almost 25 years. [Eur J Epidemiol. 2014 Apr;29(4):285-92.] The Finns discovered that the participants who engaged in intensive physical exercise during their free time were considerably less likely to develop Parkinson's than the participants who spent their free time sitting on their butts.
Intensive physical exercise reduced the risk of developing the disease by a factor of four. Non-intensive physical exercise had less effect.
Neurologists at Harbin Medical University in China recently published the results of a study in which they compared two hundred people who had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's with two hundred people who had not. The Chinese also discovered that people who were active a lot outdoors were protected against Parkinson's.
One of the things these studies show is that exercise reduces the effect of the substances the researchers use to induce Parkinson's in the lab animals. The animal studies also show that stress reduces the positive effects of exercise [Behav Brain Res. 2005 Dec 7;165(2):210-20.] and that the positive effects are not the result of damaged brain cells recovering. [Neuroscience. 2007 Feb 9;144(3):1141-51.] Exercise probably stimulates the production of growth factors in the brain, as a result of which the brain cells are better capable of dealing with the damage caused by Parkinson's.
So does that mean that intensive exercise can also offer protection to people who already have Parkinson's? Watch this space.