Forced rate cycling is a type of exercise that is showing promising results for Parkinson’s symptom management!
What is forced rate cycling?
Forced exercise or forced rate cycling is defined as ‘a mode of aerobic exercise whereby exercise rate is increased mechanically to assist the person in maintaining a greater exercise rate than their preferred voluntary rate of exercise’.
This can be achieved by using our motorised stationary bikes known as moto-meds. Studies have determined the ideal dosage for this type of exercise which is cycling at approximately 80-90 RPMs (revolutions per minute) for up to 40 minutes with a 10-minute warm up and cool down.
Yes, this can seem very daunting, and we’re not claiming it’s easy! However, we hope the next few paragraphs will convince you of the potential benefits and might just motivate you to cycle a few RPMs faster next time you are on your exercise bike.
How was it discovered?
In 2003, Dr Jay Alberts decided to tandem cycle across Iowa with his female friend who had Parkinson’s. Following the ride, Alberts noticed significant improvement in his friend’s motor symptoms, namely her handwriting. He noticed that he was cycling approximately 40% faster than his friend’s preferred rate and has since researched the benefits of forced cycling in Parkinson’s to understand how this can improve symptoms and overall motor function.
What does the research show?
Research has shown that both antiparkinsonian medication and forced exercise have comparable brain activation patterns, suggesting they may share a similar mode of action. In 2012, Ridgel and his team found that a single bout of active assisted cycling at a rate of 80-85 RPMs improved upper body tremor and bradykinesia (slowness of movement) to a level that was similar to individuals ‘on’ medication state. Alberts also observed that forced exercise and Parkinson’s medication produced similar levels of symptom improvement as measured by the UPDRS scale.
Finally, evidence has shown that the effects of forced rate cycling are maintained for 48 hours following the exercise itself, supporting that exercise could be an ideal adjunct treatment when used in combination with Parkinson’s medication, particularly for those who experience fluctuations with their on/off periods.
The greatest news of all is that forced rate cycling comes with minimal side effects – the worst side effects may include some delayed onset muscle soreness which is certainly worth these potential benefits!
It’s important to check with an exercise physiologist prior to taking part in forced exercise to ensure your cardiovascular health and injuries are taken into consideration.
If you’d like to introduce forced rate cycling to your exercise routine, come and join us at Brain x Body Fitness Studio!