People with early-stage Parkinson’s disease can decrease the worsening of motor symptoms associated with the illness by doing high-intensity exercises three times a day.
Parkinson’s disease results when the brain cells that are responsible for movement either start to die or become impaired. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder next to Alzheimer’s and the most common movement disorder in the US. According to the Parkinson’s foundation, an estimated one million Americans are affected by the ailment.
According to a study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Parkinson’s disease can be staved off by doing simple exercises each day. It was previously believed that physical exercise would be too stressful for individuals with the ailment, however, those who were in the early phases of Parkinson’s disease saw results after six months.
„The earlier in the disease you intervene, the more likely it is you can prevent the progression of the disease,” notes co-lead author Daniel Corcos, a Northwestern University professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences.
At the moment, Corcos claims the results were restricted to those six months of monitoring Parkinson’s patients. He said that further study is required to see if preventing the development of Parkinson’s disease by way of physical exercise is possible.
The development of Parkinson’s disease usually occurs in people who are 60 or older. Symptoms of the ailment include stiffness, progressive loss of muscle control, trembling, impaired balance, and slowness.
The clinical trial consisted of 128 participants who were between 40 and 80 years old. Those who enrolled in the study were at an early stage of Parkinson’s and were not under any medication associated with the ailment. This meant that the results of the study would not be affected by other factors.
A third of the participants were to do 30 minutes of treadmill exercise for thirty minutes at 80 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate for four days a week. The other two-thirds were given moderate treadmill exercises and no exercise regimen respectively.
The results revealed that those who underwent high-intensity exercises in six months did not develop Parkinson’s symptoms any further. The third who did not exercise saw their symptoms worsen by 15 percent, while those in-between registered 7 to 8 percent worsening.
While further study is required to see if physical exercise can actually prevent Parkinson’s disease, researchers believe it is a surefire way to at least slow down its development. The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology.
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