Beat Parkinson's Today
For the Yale study, we enrolled people with early and mild PD in the Beat Parkinson’s Today high-intensity exercise program 3 times per week for 6 months. Yale performed brain imaging using dopamine transporter (DaT) PET and neuromelanin (NM) MRI to measure the brain effects of exercise in the substantia nigra. Substantia nigra is the brain area that contains the dopamine-producing neurons and is affected in PD. The bar graphs show the increase in DaT and NM concentrations in the substantia nigra after exercise (averaged data obtained from 10 participants).
The picture below shows the increase in DaT concentration after exercise in other brain areas also affected by PD in a single participant. Hot colors indicate higher DaT concentration.
Taken together, the findings of this pilot study suggest that high-intensity exercise may have protective effects on the dopamine-producing neurons in PD.