COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Parkinson's disease affects the nervous system, causing tremors, muscle stiffness and speech disorders. There is no cure, but research suggests that vigorous exercise can slow the progression of the disease.
PDSiguienteSteps, a program here in Columbus, aims to do just that.
Since Andy Bell was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, he makes the trip from Springfield, Ohio to Columbus three to four times a week to attend the PDNextSteps class.
"I discovered a Monday and a Friday, I enrolled in this class and I was hooked," Bell said.
Melissa Carlson, owner and founder of PDNextSteps, is one of the main reasons why Bell continues to travel to central Ohio.
"It is estimated that there are 1 million people in the United States with Parkinson's," said Carlson. "Research shows that vigorous exercise helps delay the progression of the disease."
Carlson sees the program as a way to keep those who have been diagnosed with the disease going.
"The reason why it's called 'next steps' is because you are diagnosed with Parkinson's and [then] what's next?" , He said.
People of all ages show up to class almost daily for hard training. So, how does it work?
"Getting your heart rate up to 8% of your maximum [heart rate] is neuroprotective for your brain," explained Carlson. . "It's like a shield for your brain." It protects everything that is already there. "
Class members also work on the mind talking about depression, nutrition and how to perfect motor skills.
"They enjoy being close to each other," Carlson said.
He said that He tells everyone that he has the best job in the world.
"There is not a day when I do not wake up and I really hope to see you here," he said of his students
For people like Andy Bell, the class is paying off.
 "I have to see my doctor every six months," Bell said. "The last time I went, he told me:" Come back in a year. You are progressing very well. You will never overcome Parkinson's, but you will control the effects of Parkinson's. "
Bell said that those who are battling Parkinson's disease should not take it lying down
"Do not get depressed," Bell said. "We're all going to have something that happens to us one day and we just have to make the most of it."