Date
18 October 2017
Relaxed, slow hiking at a comfortable pace is a suitable exercise for people suffering from Parkinson's disease. Photo: AFP
Relaxed, slow hiking at a comfortable pace is a suitable exercise for people suffering from Parkinson's disease. Photo: AFP

How hiking benefits patients with Parkinson’s disease

Previously, I highlighted some physical activities that are suitable for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). 

Today I would like to focus on the benefits of hiking for PD sufferers.

About a year ago, I saw a young woman in her forties with Parkinson’s disease. She has always hated sports. Although her husband loves to exercise and encourages her to be more outgoing, she kept finding excuses.

After the PD diagnosis, her movement became so much slower that she became even more reluctant to get active.

My prescriptions have gradually improved her condition by restoring her physical strength. Now she is keen to know how to reduce other symptoms.

I persuaded her to exercise more. Many of my patients have seen their condition stabilize by exercising a lot.

I recommended hiking.

Hiking is an easy activity as it does not require a lot of skills and is the most suitable exercise for people who seldom work out.

While hiking, walkers can enjoy the trek and the scenery. If you choose different routes each time, it would give you much more fun and a sense of novelty.

Some may view sports as a boring chore but hiking could motivate patients to stay physically active when they take to strolling continuously and spontaneously.

In addition, hiking helps improve balance in patients with Parkinson’s. In fact, if an appropriate route is chosen, the uneven and rough hiking trail can build up muscle strength in the legs, sharpen reflexes and enhance endurance and balance.

Also, hiking can increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis as it is a weight-bearing exercise. All of these benefits reduce the risk of patients accidentally falling down.

Hiking with a group of friends and family is always the best. Parkinson’s patients are less depressed when they have a richer social life and support from each other.

A few months later, my patient came back for a follow-up session. She was walking briskly.

She told me that she became bright and cheerful after hiking weekly. She even gave a mini-lecture on recommended trails in different districts of Hong Kong.

She has fallen in love with hiking.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 7

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/FC/RA

registered neurologist, FHKAM (Medicine)

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