April 14, 2011
Exercise Helps Parkinson’s Patients
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers found that Parkinson's patients who walked on a treadmill at a comfortable speed for a longer duration (low-intensity exercise) improved their walking more than patients who walked for less time but at an increased speed and incline (high-intensity exercise). The investigators also found benefits for stretching and resistance exercises.
"Our study showed that low-intensity exercise performed for 50 minutes, three times a week was the most beneficial in terms of helping participants improve their mobility. Walking difficulty is the major cause of disability in Parkinson's disease. These results show that exercise in people with Parkinson's disease can make a difference in their function. Exercise may, in fact, delay disability and help to preserve independence," Lisa Shulman, M.D., principal investigator and professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was quoted as saying.
"Many patients ask us what kind of exercise they should be doing. Now, we can tell them that this research shows that low-intensity walking, which most people with Parkinson's can do, combined with stretching and resistance training may be the best option," said Dr. Shulman.
The study compared 67 people with Parkinson's disease who were randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups: walking on a treadmill at low intensity for 50 minutes; higher-intensity treadmill training to improve cardiovascular fitness for 30 minutes; and using weights (leg presses, extensions and curls) and stretching exercises to improve muscle strength and range of motion. Participants exercised three times a week for three months under the supervision of exercise physiologists at the Baltimore VA Medical Center.
"We saw positive effects with all three types of exercise, but the low-intensity training showed the most consistent improvement in gait and mobility," said Dr. Shulman. "To maintain the best possible quality of life, people with Parkinson's disease need practical, evidence-based advice about what kind of exercise will most benefit them over the long term."
SOURCE: 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology meeting held in Honolulu from April 9-16, 2011