In a nutshell
This study evaluated the long-term effects of exercise and regular physical activity in patients with early Parkinson’s disease (PD). The data showed that in the long-term, the maintenance of high regular physical activity levels and exercise habits were strongly associated with better clinical outcomes of PD symptoms.
PD is a disorder in which part of the brain is progressively damaged over many years. The disease affects certain brain cells and causes movement symptoms such as muscle rigidity, tremors, and impaired balance. Patients can see their gait affected due to symptoms such as slow movements and an abnormal posture. An impaired gait is characterized by a lack of movement of the trunk, upper body, and lower body muscles. This results in slow and alternate steps that are short and rapid.
Aerobic exercise consists of high-intensity physical exercise that increases heart and lung function. Previous studies suggested that physical exercise improved muscle function and movement symptoms in patients with PD. However, these studies had a short follow-up time and were not well adjusted for confounding factors. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the long-term effects of exercise and regular physical activity in patients with early PD.
Methods & findings
This study involved 237 patients with early PD. Regular physical activity levels were measured using a self-reported patient questionnaire. The average follow-up time was 5 years.
Regular physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous exercise levels at the start of the study did not significantly affect the clinical progression of PD symptoms. However, average levels of regular overall physical activity over time were significantly associated with slower deterioration of postural and gait stability, activities of daily living, and processing speed in patients with PD.
Moderate-to-vigorous exercise levels were preferentially associated with a slower decline of postural and gait stability. Work-related activity levels were primarily associated with slower deterioration of processing speed.
The bottom line
This study concluded that in the long-term, the maintenance of high regular physical activity levels and exercise habits were strongly associated with better clinical outcomes of PD symptoms.
The fine print
The sample size was small. The study was observational. The patients' regular physical activity was measured using a self-reported questionnaire. This might influence the conclusions.
Published By :
Jan 12, 2022
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