For the estimated half a million people in the US living with Parkinson’s disease, simple day-to-day activities can prove a challenge. But a new study claims exercise can improve balance, mobility and overall quality of life for individuals with the condition. In patients with less severe Parkinson’s, exercise may even reduce the risk of falls.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that is newly diagnosed in around 50,000 Americans each year. Onset is most common among individuals over the age of 60, and the disease affects around 50% more men than women.
Falling is common among people with Parkinson’s; around 60% of individuals with the disease experience a fall each year, and approximately two thirds of these fall frequently.
Those with less severe Parkinson’s disease who took part in the exercise program saw a 70% reduction in falls, compared with those who continued with their usual care.
Another study found reduction for the risks of Parkinson’s disease with 1 hour of moderate physical activity each day.
Physical exercise has been associated with neuroprotective effects in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system. To examine the impact of physical activity on Parkinson’s disease risk prospectively, we followed 43 368 individuals who provided extensive information on physical activity at baseline. We estimated hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals using Cox proportional hazards regression. During an average of 12.6 years of follow-up, 286 incident Parkinson’s disease cases were identified. In males, there was an inverse association with Parkinson’s disease for total physical activity (hazard ratio 0.55, 95% confidence interval 0.35–0.87 for medium versus low level), for sum of household, commuting and leisure time exercise (hazard ratio 0.53, 95% confidence interval 0.33–0.85 for high versus low level), and for household and commuting physical activity specifically (hazard ratio 0.50, 95% confidence interval 0.31–0.81 for over 6 versus less 2 hours per week). No association was observed for leisure time exercise or occupational physical activity with Parkinson’s disease, among either males or females. Meta-analysis of the present study and five previous prospective studies showed a pooled hazard ratio of 0.66 (95% confidence interval 0.57–0.78) for highest versus lowest physical activity level. Our results indicate that a medium level of physical activity lowers Parkinson’s disease risk.
SOURCES- Journal Brain, Neurology Journal