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Getting some exercise may help people with Parkinson’s disease: study

Posted:  Thursday, January 08, 2015

In what can be termed as good news, people with Parkinson’s disease can greatly benefit from exercises involving sweeping movements such as swimming or skiing. Such exercises could help them strengthen their balance, improve the ability to move around, and even positively affect their overall quality of life.

These encouraging results were published in the journal Neurology. As part of the study, the researchers examined 231 people with Parkinson’s disease. One group received usual treatment, while another group participated in an exercise programme 3 times a week over the course of 6 months.

The exercise regimen involved 40 to 60 minutes of balance and leg-strengthening exercises, nearly 13% of which were supervised by a physical therapist. They found that the patients in the exercise programme experienced up to 70% fewer falls than those who did not exercise. This positive effect of exercise was only seen in people with a less severe form of Parkinson’s disease. Exercise did not benefit those with severe form of the disease.

“These results suggest that minimally supervised exercise programmes aimed at reducing falls in people with Parkinson’s should be started early in the disease process,” said the researchers. The degeneration of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement in people with Parkinson’s disease increases their risk of falling.

Although the benefits of exercising especially in reducing the risk of chronic conditions is well known, those with Parkinson’s disease may reap the maximum benefits as it may not just help them in the physical aspects but also in the emotional aspects. Engaging such people in exercises designed to improve balance and mobility early on could indeed help them tide over the disease gracefully.

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