The benefits of physical activity (and rowing) for wellness

Pete Donohoe
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11th April marks World Parkinson's Day, an annual day for people with Parkinson's, their families, careers and clinicians to come together to raise awareness and increase understanding of this debilitating condition. Because staying active is crucial to health and wellness, especially for those who may live with Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or any other long term health condition, this topic is very important to Hydrow. In fact, we are so committed to this cause, we partnered with artist Alex Echo to create a limited-edition Hydrow rower collection to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson’s is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world and Alex Echo was diagnosed with it in 2019. It is the result of brain cells that produce the chemical dopamine, dying. Those cells support movement in the body. The condition is progressive, which means it begins gradually and gets worse over time. Its cognitive and physical effects result in over 40 symptoms, including: tremors, limb stiffness, impaired balance and coordination, difficulty swallowing and talking, sleep problems, behavioral changes, memory difficulties, depression, anxiety, and pain, to name a few. In fact, around 145,000 people in the UK are currently diagnosed with Parkinson's and 1 in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Every hour, two more people are diagnosed — which equates to 18,000 people every year.

**How being active can help**

Studies have proven that physical activity can help alleviate many of these symptoms — in fact, it can be as important as medicine. It keeps the body moving, stops it from seizing up, sends dopamine to the brain for enhanced mood, and more.

Being physically active is important for everyone. It supports both physical and mental health, and depending on what you choose, can provide social support and interaction, all of which can really help people living with Parkinson’s. Research has shown that around 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week has the potential to help manage common motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s and increase overall wellbeing. Developing a regular physical activity habit can make a person feel more in control when living with the condition. Quality of life can be enhanced and independence and confidence maintained.

- Tim Morton, Physical Activity Programme Manager at Parkinson’s UK

Research has shown that physical activity, both aerobic and strength training, can have the following positive effects on symptoms of Parkinson’s:

  • - Decreased depression 

  • - Improved motor coordination

  • - Improved cognitive function

  • - Lower anxiety

  • - Improved balance

  • - Better endurance

****Science and success****

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “exercise may improve the motor manifestations of PD… Specifically, evidence has shown that exercise is beneficial for bradykinesia [slowness of movement], postural balance and quality of life in patients with PD.”

Each of their four studies which specifically tested executive function, showed that exercise improved performance on some measure of executive function, such as tests of abstraction, mental flexibility, spatial working memory, verbal fluency, mental imagery, and cognitive processing speed in regards to Parkinson’s.

**The benefits of rowing and Hydrow**

Rowing is low impact, so it is easy on the joints for those who are living with this degenerative condition. It’s also a full-body workout, so even just a few minutes a day can have a positive effect in multiple muscle areas. In fact, rowing works 86% of major muscle groups — almost double running or cycling.

With Hydrow, members can row from the comfort of their home anytime they want, with or without the help of a caregiver if needed. Our Athletes are encouraging, positive and inspirational, sharing stories of their own trials and tribulations to keep Members motivated. The ability to row virtually on real, beautiful scenic waterways around the world provides a welcome escape. The mental benefits of this cannot be replicated by any other connected fitness device on the market. 

****Help spread awareness****

Hydrow also comes with a supportive community who share their own struggles and successes both through the Hydrow app and on social media, including our Hydrow UK Facebook page and Hydrow Training Camp Facebook group. To our current Members, this is where we ask you to come in — please help us spread the word about our exclusive partnership with Alex Echo and the ambition to raise money for Parkinson’s UK and awareness of Parkinson’s itself. You can post about it on social media and tag @hydrow.

To read more about Alex Echo, visit alexecho.com.

If you are affected by Parkinson's and would like to speak to someone, please visit Parkinson's UK support services at: https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support or call their helpline on 0808 800 030.