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Dr. Sheila Fleming, a Parkinson's Disease researcher at NEOMED.

Can Exercise Slow the Progression of Parkinson’s Disease?

Can exercise slow the progression of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease?

Sheila Fleming, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, wants to find out.

Dr. Fleming, who is also director of the Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging Research Focus Area, is conducting short-term and long-term tests to capture information on the impact of exercise using a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. In the early and short-term intervention, Dr. Fleming is investigating whether exercise can interfere with pathological changes before neurodegeneration develops.

One promising finding in the short-term study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense? Rats with Parkinson’s that did a treadmill exercise were able to maintain control of voluntary movement, while Parkinson’s rats that weren’t given the treadmill exercise were significantly impaired. “This is pretty cool, and we are very excited about it,” enthused Dr. Fleming, adding, “So far, we are seeing a decrease in fear and anxiety in the (test) rats who exercise.”

Dr. Fleming’s long-term study seeks to determine whether exercise can interfere with the development of neurodegeneration.