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Physical Activity May Help Slow Progression of Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. A new study has found that four hours of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly may help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Participants in the study included 237 adults with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. They were followed for an average of 5 years to track the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms were rated on a scale of zero to four, with higher scores correlating with more impairment.

Questionnaires were used to measure participants’ involvement in physical activities such as walking or biking, household activities such as gardening, and occupational activities such as taking care of someone else. Cognitive tests were used to evaluate verbal and memory skills.

The researchers found that participants who got at least 4 hours per week of moderate to vigorous exercise had a slower decline in balancing and walking ability at the end of the study period, compared to those who got little to no exercise. Symptom scores for those who had above average levels of physical activity saw their scores go from 1.4 to 3.0. Those who got little to no exercise saw their scores go from 1.4 to 3.7.

The researchers also found that participants who did more than 15.5 hours of work per week had better cognitive scores at the end of the study period compared to those who did less than 15.5 hours of work.

Previous research has also suggested that intense exercise may slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

The study was conducted by researchers from Kyoto University. It was published on January 12, 2022 in the journal Neurology.

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