Wednesday, April 1, 2015

'You should exercise' is NOT enough...

Dr. Hans Kraus (1905-1995) is recognized by some as the father of Sports Medicine in the US and by others as a world class rock climber.  His highly active and adventurous life informed his approach to medicine in a way that set him apart from other physicians. He used exercise as a therapeutic modality.  He believed immobilization was over-used and he avoided surgery at all costs.  He got people moving!  He used a sliding fee scale to care for people without means as well as many celebrities including Katherine Hepburn.  He was President John F. Kennedy's secret doctor - a position that he did not seek but accepted as a service to his country.

Today you might find the phrase 'Exercise is Medicine' in discussions of diabetes, high blood pressure, neurodegenerative diseases, chronic kidney disease, stroke and many other conditions.  But what is the prescription?  In his biography Into the Unknown by Susan E.B. Schwartz, this is what Dr. Kraus had to say about prescribing exercise. 

"Prescribing therapeutic exercise is an art, and exercises are like medicine.  You wouldn't go to a drugstore with a prescription that simply read 'medicine'.  You'd of course expect your prescription to be fully described and specific about what you're going to take, how much, and when.  It's the same with therapeutic exercise... I wouldn't give everyone the same exercises any more than another doctor would give all his patients the same medicine, whether their problem was a cold, broken leg, or heart condition."  - Dr. Hans Kraus

This quote from Dr. Kraus is related to our mission in the Exercise Neuroscience Lab at UD.  Whether you have Parkinson's disease or find yourself slowing down with age, you are probably aware that you should exercise. We are working to understand and to help you receive the best exercise prescriptions, whether they are for increased speed, balance, strength or a better mood.  We want to help you get started with exercise, to enhance your current exercise strategies, and equip you with knowledge and tools to continue on your own.  Borrowing from rock climbing vernacular, Dr. Hans Kraus established a route for us and we are following his lead.

Follow this blog to find more information about exercise strategies for Parkinson's disease and be sure to friend our community partner, Shake It Off 4 PD on Facebook.

A sample prescription involving a practical program for speedwork is described here.
Parkinson's Exercise Essentials Video from the Davis Phinney Foundation here.

Be well.