Exercise Helps Those with Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds

People who have Parkinson’s disease may be able to improve their gait speed, muscle strength and fitness by walking on a treadmill and performing stretching and resistance exercises, a new study finds.

One of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, commonly called PD, is gait impairment. Current therapies are inadequate at preserving mobility as the disease progresses, according to a news release from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

But researchers from the school have found that exercising on a treadmill not only improved cardiovascular levels but helped improve gait speed.

Researchers placed 67 patients with PD in three groups for the study. One group exercised on the treadmill at a high intensity for 30 minutes. Another group walked for 50 minutes at a lower intensity. A third group performed stretching and resistance exercises. All three groups completed the exercises three times a week for three months.

“The effects of exercise were seen across all three exercise groups,” the authors wrote. “The lower-intensity treadmill exercise resulted in the greatest improvement in gait speed. Both the higher- and lower-intensity treadmill exercises improved cardiovascular fitness. Only the stretching and resistance exercises improved muscle strength. Therefore, exercise can improve gait speed, muscle strength and fitness for patients with Parkinson’s disease.”

The study was published online in Archives of Neurology, a JAMA Network publication.

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