When unmedicated patients were examined shortly after a forced exercise session, their brain activation patterns resembled those seen when they were on medication. “People like to say that ‘exercise is medicine,’ and it looks like we’re actually showing it,” he says.
“People often ask me: ‘what’s the best exercise for PD?’ At the moment, my answer is ‘any exercise that you’ll do,’” Alberts says. “Hopefully, we’ll soon have more data to give a very specific recommendation.”
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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Going for regular brisk walks may improve symptoms among people with Parkinson’s disease and boost their quality of life, according to a preliminary study.
“Exercise is medicine for Parkinson’s,” Jay Alberts, from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute in Ohio, told Reuters Health.
“This shows it doesn’t necessarily have to be super high-intensity exercise,” Alberts said. He studies motor function in Parkinson’s disease but wasn’t involved in the new research.
The study included 60 people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease who could walk independently without a cane or walker and had no other serious medical problems.
Researchers had the participants walk briskly, at an average pace of 2.9 miles per hour, three times a week for six months. Each walking session lasted 45 minutes. Participants kept diaries of each session and had trainers to help choose walking routes and collect the diaries.
When researchers compared results from a battery of tests conducted before and after the six months of regular walks, they found participants’ motor function, fitness, mood, tiredness, memory and thinking abilities all improved during the study, on average.
At first some participants also tried interval training - alternating every three minutes between slower and faster speeds - but researchers started assigning all new participants to continuous speed walking when knee pain became a problem in the interval group. There were no such side effects in the continuous speed group, according to results published in Neurology.
“We observed seven to 15 percent improvement in various symptoms that appeared to be clinically meaningful,” Dr. Ergun Uc told Reuters Health in an email. He led the study at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.