Parkinson Disease Progression Is Stalled by Intense Exercise

APRIL 02, 2018
Ryan Marotta
Patients with early-stage Parkinson disease may be able to slow the progression of their condition by engaging in high-intensity exercise, according to the results of a recent study.

The study, published in JAMA, examined data on 128 individuals aged 40 to 80 years with early-stage Parkinson disease. Through the study period, about a third of the participants were asked to exercise 3 times a week at high intensity (80% to 85% of maximum heart rate), another third exercised 3 times a week at moderate intensity (60% to 65% of maximum heart rate), and the remaining patients did not exercise.

After 6 months, the severity of the participants’ Parkinson disease symptoms were rated by clinicians on a scale from 0 to 108. The researchers found that while the scores of patients in the high-intensity exercise group remained at an average of 20, scores of those in the moderate-intensity exercise group increased by about 1.5 points. Additionally, the participants who did not exercise saw their scores increase by about 3 points, an increase that was deemed to be clinically significant.

“The earlier in the disease you intervene, the more likely it is you can prevent the progression of the disease,” said lead author Daniel Corcos, PhD, in a statement. “We delayed worsening of symptoms for 6 months; whether we can prevent progression any longer than 6 months will require further study.”

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