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Parkinson’s Exercise: Davis Phinney Foundation Promotes Living Better Today

Davis Phinney triumphantly standing with a bicycle, representing his achievements and involvement in cycling and Parkinson's advocacy.
The Triumphant & Victorious Davis Phinney– Theracycle’s Hero

As a company who builds exercise bikes for people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, it should come as no surprise that Davis Phinney is a hero of ours!

For those who don’t know of him, Colorado-based Davis Phinney is a retired professional cyclist (and 1984 Olympic medalist) who at the age of 40 was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s 12 years ago. A perpetual motion machine, Davis has led bicycle tours and conducted cycle-related fundraisers for PD research for many years.

In 2004, he founded The Davis Phinney Foundation (DPF), which is dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s disease to “live well today,” through educational programs, events and, the funding of research focused on exercise, speech and other quality of life therapies.

DPF-funded research includes support for multiple projects directed by Theracycle’s own official Medical Advisor, Boston University Prof. Terry Ellis, PT, PhD, NCS including her 2010 study: “Factors Associated With Exercise Behavior in People With Parkinson Disease.”

For all these reasons, it is with great pride, that we share this first guest blog post from the tremendous team at the Davis Phinney Foundation — among the most dedicated and enthusiastic Parkinson’s exercise ambassadors we know!

Davis Phinney Foundation:
“Exercise helps people with Parkinson’s live better today”

As life expectancy increases in the world’s ten most populous countries, the number of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) over age 50 is expected to double from approximately 4.5 million in 2005 to 9.0 million by 2030. These numbers highlight the importance of seeking interventions, such as exercise, to minimize disability and improve mobility and quality of life in people with PD. With advances in medical and surgical interventions, people with Parkinson’s disease are living 20-30 years following their initial diagnosis. Despite these advances in treatment, people with PD typically face deterioration in mobility and ability to participate in the activities of daily living, a situation that results in a loss of independence and a decline in quality of life. In addition, important contributors to disability in people with PD, such as loss of balance strength, are less responsive to treatment by medications or surgery.

Over the last decade, more evidence is emerging revealing significant and clinically meaningful benefits of exercise for persons with Parkinson’s disease. A recent critical review of the literature identified greater than 20 high quality studies demonstrating that persons with PD who participated in exercise programs had better quality of life, walking ability, balance, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness compared to those who did not exercise.

The Davis Phinney Foundation collaborates with many researchers in order to advance the understanding of exercise and physical activity in Parkinson disease. We are currently funding research by Dr. Jay Alberts of the Cleveland Clinic and Drs. Bas Bloem and Marten Munneke from the UMC St. Radboud, Nijmegen, the Netherlands for the proposed grant: Brain training: Effects of Aerobic Exercise of Cognitive and Adaptive Plasticity in Parkinson’s Disease.

This study will examine the effects of exercise on cognitive and motor functioning in a group of newly diagnosed individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Participants in this project will exercise on a stationary exercise bicycle in their home that is linked to study coordinators. Dr. Alberts’ pioneering tandem research has been featured on national television, and one such example can be seen on the Theracycle website.

The Davis Phinney Foundation is fortunate to meet people living with Parkinson’s on a regular basis who can testify to the benefits of exercise. With the Foundation’s namesake, Davis Phinney’s background as a professional cyclist, quite a few of our most enthusiastic Parkinson’s exercise ambassadors like to get on the bike. If you’re looking for a little motivation or some first-hand accounts of how exercising can help people with Parkinson’s to live well today, check out some of their stories on the Davis Phinney Foundation website.

Visit the DPF online at http://www.davisphinneyfoundation.org and follow @DavisPhinneyFND on Twitter.

Exclusive to The Theracycle Blog from the Davis Phinney Foundation (Boulder, CO USA)