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Being physically active in daily life can lower risk of Parkinson’s

Posted:  Friday, December 05, 2014

Swedish researchers ushered in good news when they found that medium amount of physical activity in daily life could reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease compared to a very low level of physical activity.

Published in the journal Brain, this 12-year study followed 43,368 individuals from the Swedish National March Cohort. As part of the study, they used an extensive questionnaire, which assessed household and commuting activity, occupational activity, leisure time exercise, and total daily physical activity among the male and female participants of the study.

The researchers then quantified the physical activity into metabolic equivalent (MET) hours per day based on the estimated oxygen consumption associated with these activities. At the start of the study, all the participants were free of Parkinson’s disease, but by the end of the follow-up period, 286 cases of Parkinson’s disease were identified.

The study found that participants spending more than 6 hours per week on household and commuting activities had a 43% lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease as compared to those who spent less than two hours on the same activities. In males, a medium level of total physical activity (a mean of 39.1 MET hours per day) was associated with a 45% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease as compared to a low level of total physical activity. The results in women were inconsistent and leisure time activity was not associated with Parkinson’s risk when analysed alone.

“One of many strengths of this study is that all information on physical activity and daily energy output was assessed before the disease occurrence, making recall bias and reverse causation less likely. The results show that a few hours spent at the gym do not have the protective effect that one would wish, but it is the physical activity in daily life that is of greater importance,” said the researchers. Taking a cue from this study, it would be good to indulge in some daily chores to keep Parkinson’s at bay.

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