A new study has found Parkinson’s patients who do 2.5 hours, or 150 minutes, of exercise a week can slow down the effects of the condition.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive condition that often results in impaired mobility, a decrease in health-related quality of life (HRQL) and death.
Previous research has also provided evidence that physical activity can delay this progressive decline.
The new study, carried out by Northwestern University and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, looked at 3,408 participants who had provided data over a two-year period, with information collected during at least three clinic visits.
At each visit the team measured physical activity by patients’ self-reports on how many hours of exercise they did each week.
The results showed that those with Parkinson’s disease who partook in 150 minutes of exercise each week had a smaller decline in quality of life and mobility over the two years compared to those who didn’t exercise or exercised less.
In addition, declines in HRQL and mobility were significantly slower not only for those who exercised regularly at the start of the study, but also for those who started to exercise later, after their first study-related visit.
“The most important part of the study is that it suggests that people who are not currently achieving recommended levels of exercise could start to exercise today to lessen the declines in quality of life and mobility that can occur with this progressive disease,” added lead investigator Miriam R. Rafferty.
The team also found that increasing exercise by 30 minutes per week was associated with even slower declines in HRQL in those with advanced PD.
The team now believe that these findings could have significant implications for making exercise and physical activity more accessible to people with more severe disability, as the mobility impairments of those with advanced PD may limit their access to regular exercise in community and group exercise programs.
Although the study did not look at which type of physical activity is best, it does suggest that any form of exercise is better than no exercise as long as it is done in a “dose” of at least 150 minutes per week.
“People with PD should feel empowered to find the type of exercise they enjoy, even those with more advanced symptoms,” added Dr. Rafferty.
The results of the study can be found published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.