Forced Pedalling Exercise Benefits

My husband who is 63 was diagnosed with Parkinson's 2.5 years ago but had been exhibiting signs earlier than this eg. slow movement, stiffness, reduced facial expression, poor sleep pattern.  In July this year, we listened to a programme on Radio 4 where a researcher (Dr J Alberts) was speaking about the positive effects of "forced" pedalling action in reducing symptoms of Parkinson's. The idea is to get one's heart rate between 60-80% of its maximum using the Karvonen formula.  My husband decided to try this out.  Three times a week he pedals on a stationary bike in the local gym for 12-15 min at 85-95 revs / per min with a resistance setting of 3 to achieve a heart rate of 117/min.  The effects of this simple activity have been dramatic.  His speed of movement, dexterity and facial expression as well as sleep pattern are much improved. We noted these effects after a couple of weeks.  I would have to say that he is closer to "normal" than I have seen him for some years. I wanted to share this information but if you are reading this and want to try it for yourself - please check with your doctor  that this form of exercise is suitable for you.  If anyone does try it - I would be very interested to know how you got on.

I use a stationary bike at the gym to warm up for about five minutes, but I'm going to start using it for a bit longer and pedalling harder. I'll let you know how I get on. big grin

Hi Otherhalf,

That sounds a really positIve thing to do.....thank you for sharing your husband's experience. We'd all better get on one of these bikes and increase our heart rate. I swim three times a week, but never get my heart rate up much, as I go with a friend and spend too much time talking as we're swimming up and down!!

Good advice about checking with your GP first, as well. I hope your husband continues to thrive.

Best Wishes,


Thanks for your responses Tabbycat and Twinks. Looking forward to hearing how you get on.  Best Wishes


I tried it last night at the gym, nearly knackered myself! I normally cycle for five minutes at a steady pace but this time I pedalled quite hard. Will try and increase it by a couple of minutes each session.

I've been doing a lot of fast walking lately - not by choice, unfortunately. I changed jobs recently and now have two extra 20-minute walks every day. Because one walk is getting to work on time and the other is catching a train (and both involve dodging tourists!), I've been walking really fast. The first few weeks were hell and I ached all over, so I bought a pair of comfy, shoes with cushioned soles (Skechers, if you're interested) and over the past couple of weeks I've realised I'm walking SO much faster and generally feel a lot better.

Hi Everybody

I intend to give this a go!

I have a bike set up indoors on a turbo trainer which (in theory) I use in winter when the roads are too icy for safe outdoor cycling. This doesn't actually happen that often here, tends to be wet and murky rather than clear and cold, and I would always rather cycle outside for real. So, I never put much effort in and usually give it up after about five minutes out of boredom.

But, today I received my heart rate monitor, and this will be the incentive I need.

At best I may see an improvement in my Parkinson symptoms and at worst I will be fitter, so nothing but gain!

Starting tomorrow.


From -

'Physical Activity

With regard to physical activity, research suggests moderate to vigorous exercise may have a neuroprotective effect, reducing the risk of PD development, slowing progression, and improving mobility in those already diagnosed with the disease.

In rats with chemically induced PD, treadmill exercise was found to suppress the loss of dopamine-producing neurons. In another animal study, exercise strengthened weakened muscles and partially recovered the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in rats.'


'While a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t been proven between physical activity and a reduced risk of PD, the evidence is more clear that physical activity benefits patients with PD. Research indicates that cardiovascular fitness improves cognition among PD patients. Cognitive impairment occurs in about 25% of patients with early PD and eventually develops into dementia in most patients over the long term.The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation recommends regular physical activity to maintain and increase mobility among PD patients.Three 20-minute exercise sessions per week have been recommended as a reasonable goal. Ideally, an exercise program would include aerobic, strengthening, and stretching exercises'

Hi Otherhalf, Thanks for posting that information. I had heard about it but evidence of its effectiveness on your husband is encouraging. I do yoga and tai chi couple of times a week. I walk 4 to 5 miles twice a week and find that by the end of the 5 miles my walking is much better. I never linked the increase in heart rate to benefit PD. Going to try that over the weekend. Thx again.