Health News – A study reveals that moderate to vigorous exercise helps slow down several clinical parameters in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and results in a better clinical course of the disease in the long term. However, the study doesn’t prove that maintaining an exercise program will delay all the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
A study, published in Neurology, reveals that the maintenance of high regular physical activity levels and exercise habits is robustly associated with a better clinical course of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
With 237 early PD patients, the observational cohort study primarily used multivariate linear mixed-effects models to analyze the interaction effects of their regular physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous exercise levels. Exercising was divided into ones conducted in leisure time (walking, biking, etc.), as household activity (gardening, etc.), and/or occupational activity (care-giving, etc.). This was measured through the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly questionnaire, on the progression of clinical parameters—after adjusting for age, sex, levodopa-equivalent dose, and disease duration. Confidence intervals (CIs) were also calculated. It also conducted sensitivity analyses using the multiple imputation method and subgroup analyses. The propensity score matching was used to match all baseline background factors. Moreover, one cognitive test researchers used was a common paper-and-pencil test to measure mental processing speed.
The findings were drawn from results borne by the common cognitive tests measuring the patients’ mental processing speed, verbal and memory skills, and tenure for completion of menial tasks. A limitation of the study was that activity levels were self-reported and might not have been accurate. The research found that while people’s physical activity level at the start of the study is not associated with the progression of their Parkinson’s later on, in the long-term, high regular physical activity levels is robustly associated with a better clinical course of the disease. People who got at least four hours of moderate to vigorous exercise (such as walking, dancing, etc.) per week had a slower decline in balancing and walking five years later, compared to those who did not get that much exercise.
However, the study didn’t prove that maintaining an exercise program will delay all the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Along with medication that provides symptomatic relief in PD, exercise (with its low cost and minimal side effects) has the potential to aid the slower decline of its several clinical parameters.
“Our results are exciting, because they suggest it may never be too late for someone with Parkinson’s to start an exercise program to improve the course of their disease,” said study author Kazuto Tsukita, MD, of Kyoto University in Japan and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
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Tsukita, K., Sakamaki-Tsukita, H., & Takahashi, R. (2022). Long-term Effect of Regular Physical Activity and Exercise Habits in Patients With Early Parkinson Disease. Neurology, 10.1212/WNL.0000000000013218. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000013218